Cal Ripken League opens with a new identity after adding two new teams

Chris Bowie
Boonville Daily News
Baseball was back in full swing Saturday for opening day in Cal Ripken at the Cooper County Baseball Association Ballfield at Harley park. In addition to 12 hours of baseball in the Minor and Major divisions, players and coaches were also introduced during opening ceremonies.
Einspahr Construction’s Isiah Kennedy attempts to beat out a play at first against Rt. B Cafe in Cal Ripken Major Saturday at the Cooper County Baseball Association Ballfield at Harley park.

After the introduction of players and signing of the National Anthem, Boonville Cal Ripken President Michael Watts said you could tell baseball was back Saturday during the opening of Cal Ripken Minor and Major at the Cooper County Baseball Association Ballfield.

But what was new this year compared to year’s past is that two out of town teams joined the league in Cal Ripken Minor. Watts said it is the first time an out of town team has joined the league since the very first year in 1953 when New Franklin was an original member of the league.

Six teams will make up the league in Minor and Major. Pilot Grove and Fayette will play in the 9-10-year-old division along with Axis Seed, Bradley Automotive, Central Realty and Tint Shop. Teams playing in Major are: Auto Body Experts, Boonville Ready Mix, Einspahr Construction, Huebert Fiberboard, Rt. B Cafe and QuinlanAgency.com.

Watts said each division will play a 15 game schedule, which ends in both Minor and Major (weather permitting) on Thursday, June 17.

Watts said regardless if he had four or six teams in Minor, he would have added both Pilot Grove and Fayette this season. 

“The numbers are down in Minor,” Watts said. “You’re always going to lose some by attrition. No matter what age, even when they jump up to the big field, you're going to lose some. We also had some kids decide to play soccer, and then some felt travel ball was better for them. The numbers are down at 9 year olds, but we have a lot of 10 year olds. Meanwhile, in Major, we were close to adding a seventh team.”

With six games on Saturday and over 12 hours of baseball, Watts said he wanted to thank everybody for coming out and being supportive and understanding. 

However, something new that hasn’t been done since 1953 is that in Midget and Minor League, Watts said all of the league teams will be required to travel to Pilot Grove and maybe a couple of teams twice this summer. “They're coming here so it's only fair that we do that,” Watts said. “When we do go to Pilot Grove, our teams will play a doubleheader. The second game will be shortened with special rules to hopefully get other kids opportunities to play where they normally wouldn't.”