Over the course of a year, the Cal Ripken Experience’s Myrtle Beach location hosts hundreds of youth, high school and collegiate baseball and softball clubs, with thousands of games being played on the grounds.
Sure, each tournament has its own morsel of importance. But over the next seven weeks, youth baseball and softball teams will receive quite the added perk in addition to all encompassing the Ripken Experience.
As part of its 11th summer tournament season, the Ripken Experience’s Myrtle Beach location will welcome a host legends on the baseball and softball diamond as part of this year’s ambassador series
Among those making their way to the area include Baseball Hall of Famers Cal Ripken Jr., Eddie Murray and Roberto Alomar, as well as former major leaguers Tim Raines — who will be inducted into Cooperstown later this summer — and Dale Murphy. The first to pay a visit, however, will be Billy Ripken — Cal’s younger brother who also played 12 years in the big leagues — speaking to youths taking part in the Summer Slam Tournament set to begin June 18.
One weekend is also being devoted to youth softball clubs, with fast-pitch legend Jennie Finch — a national champion and Olympic gold medalist —paying a visit to the area in late July.
“Several years ago, we wanted to spice things up a bit,” said Ripken Experience Myrtle Beach general manager Bobby Holland. “We pride ourselves on providing kids with a big league experience, specifically the game atmosphere.
“Players are given their own walk-up music, have their name announced over the PA system. But the chance to meet and interact with a former pro baseball and softball player, it sure adds some inspiration just before they start playing their tournaments.”
We don’y really have some big sales pitch. A lot of these guys have schedules and commitments of their own. It just happens that half of our tournaments are already locked in. Honestly, it is a case of us under promising while over delivering.
Bobby Holland, The Ripken Experience Myrtle Beach general manager
According to Holland, 40 teams will kick off this week’s action at the Ripken Experience. As for the summer tourney season, though, more than 400 clubs will compete over eight weeks.
“You have teams coming from all parts of the U.S., with a number coming in from Canada and two more from Melbourne, Australia,” the local Ripken Experience general manager said.
Most teams taking part in the next several weeks of competition made commitments a year in advance.
“We don’y really have some big sales pitch,” he said. “A lot of these guys have schedules and commitments of their own. It just happens that half of our tournaments are already locked in.
“Honestly, it is a case of us under promising while over delivering.”
Located in Myrtle Beach, the Ripken Experience features nine youth and regulation ballfields, accommodating play for youth, high school and college baseball, as well softball. Holland said he also hopes it serves as place where fierce competition and sportsmanship both can thrive.
“Sure, it is very competitive, but we are very big on encouraging sportsmanship,” he said. “They’re down here to play ball and have fun, but this is about more than wins and losses.”
2017 Ripken Experience Ambassador Series
June 18: Bill Ripken (Summer Slam)
June 25: Eddie Murray (Beach Blast)
July 2: Cal Ripken Jr. (Tidal Wave)
July 9: Dale Murphy (Surf’s Up)
July 16: Tim Raines (Big Kahuna)
July 23: Jennie Finch (Throw Like A Girl softball)
August 6: Roberto Alomar (Hang Ten)