The longtime Baltimore Orioles' shortstop, who became baseball's modern "Iron Man" by playing in 2,632 consecutive games from 1982 to 1998, will be on hand to promote his new children's book, "Wild Pitch."
Co-written with author and Baltimore Sun columnist, Kevin Cowherd, the novel tells the story of Robbie Hammond, a hard-throwing 12 year-old pitcher who struggles while competing in his local Babe Ruth League. Can the youngster re-discover his control and save the season for the junior Orioles?
This is the third entry in Ripken's "All-Star Series" and is designed for readers age 8 and above. The baseball veteran will sell the book during his appearance at Charlotte Sports Park and additionally autograph copies for lucky fans at the stadium from 2:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Ripken recently appeared at Ed Smith Stadium in nearby Sarasota, where his former team trains during the spring, and all 400 copies of "Wild Pitch" sold out quickly.
Only fitting that the 2007 Hall of Fame inductee return to the field, Ripken will also throw the ceremonial first pitch prior to Sunday's contest between the Tampa Bay Rays and the visiting Boston Red Sox, set to commence at 1:05 p.m. Tampa Bay enters the game as one of the hottest teams of the exhibition season, while Boston sports a .500 mark through 14 dates. With pleasant weather expected, both Sun Sports in Florida and NESN throughout New England are expected to broadcast the match-up.
Charlotte Sports Park is the off-season home of the Rays and received a $17 million renovation prior to initial occupancy in 2009. The facility is likewise home to the Charlotte Stone Crabs, a minor league team, owned by none other than Cal Ripken, Jr. The ballpark features an eye-catching outfield boardwalk, which contains an always busy tiki bar, and has become one of the gems of Florida's Grapefruit League.
Sitting adjacent to Tippecanoe Environmental Park, a picturesque 380 acre preserve near the Myakka River, Charlotte Sports Park is located at 2300 El Jobean Road in Port Charlotte. It can be easily reached from Exit 179 (Toledo Blade Road) along Interstate 75.
Tickets are priced between $10 and $27 for any of the club's 17 spring training games. Fans should call 941-206-4487 or visit the Rays' website to obtain further information.
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