Cal Ripken Jr: Rebuilding Baseball As an Owner

Wes HoltzclawCorrespondent IMay 6, 2009

COOPERSTOWN, NY - JULY 27:  Hall of Famer Cal Ripken Jr. looks on at Clark Sports Center prior to the Baseball Hall of Fame induction ceremony on July 27, 2008 in Cooperstown, New York.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

In 1988, the Pittsburgh Pirates started a single-A minor-league ballclub in Augusta, GA. After 25 years, Augusta had finally given the fans what they wanted, a team to call their own.

The team would become a member of the South Atlantic League and in 1989 they would win the Championship in only their second year.

Before the 1994 season the team's name would change to the GreenJackets to make the team more personal to Augusta playing off what has made Augusta famous, the Masters golf tournament.

The ten years the Pirates would be the GreenJackets MLB affiliate, players such as Moises Alou, Jason Kendall, Aramis Ramirez, and a young third baseman named Tim Wakefield would play at old Heaton Stadium.

In 1999, the Boston Red Sox would take over as the GreenJackets MLB affiliate and would be the affiliate until 2004. During that time the stadium would be redone and also renamed Lake Olmstead Stadium.

Players like Freddy Sanchez, Kevin Youkilis, Jon Lester, "Rookie of the Year" Hanley Ramirez, and "Rookie of the Year/MVP" Dustin Pedroia would play for the GreenJackets during there minor league careers.

In 2005, the San Fransico Giants would take over as the MLB affiliate and Cal Ripken Jr. would take over the ownership of the single A ball club. Since that time the biggest name to make it to the major leagues is Brian Wilson, the Giants closer.

The first thing Ripken did when he became owner was he changed the logo. The change gave the logo a fresh look and now Ripken wants to help give the city a fresh look.

Ripken has plans with the city to build a new state of the art, riverfront ballpark on the Savannah River.

The city is jumping with excitement and the revenue that the new ballpark will bring is going to be a shot in the arm to a city that struggles for 51 out of 52 weeks in the year.

The team has responded to Ripken by winning the South Atlantic League championship in 2008 while winning more games than any other minor league club in all classes.

Seeing what the GreenJackets have done since Ripken has taken over ownership is truly remarkable.

Cal on behalf of Augusta, thank you for being not only a great ball player, but also a great ambassador for the game itself and for reviving our great city.


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