Manchester Cal Ripken rises to challenging baseball season, with a tip of the cap to ‘bleacher creatures’

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MANCHESTER, NH – We at Manchester Cal Ripken were able to plan and execute a largely successful season, despite the COVID-19 lockdown we have been in for months.  Rolling out safety protocols like no other years we were able to provide our kids with baseball.  For the first time in many years, we as a board fielded ZERO complaints.  Everyone was in a mindset of “thanks” for giving our kids baseball.  As you know we went into overtime to get a safety guideline in place for that to happen, working with the city and state officials.  Our friends at other youth leagues had to do the unthinkable and cancel their seasons.  However, the local baseball leagues worked extra hard to get seasons off the ground.  We complement them as well and know their parents are grateful, too.

One thing that we point to is how our kids were not the only ones grateful for our season.  You see, we have a set of neighbors at our complex who love and count on our baseball season.  If you are not familiar with the area of Tarrytown Road there are two sets of high-rise senior living units that abut our right field fence area on the Brian West complex.

Ever faithful: Manchester Cal Ripken Center Rightfield cheering section. Courtesy Photo

Over the years we have had a couple people take in a game or two.  However, this season we had a fan base like no other.  I think due to the COVID-19 stay at home mandates, these seniors looked for something to do and Manchester Cal Ripken Baseball was the beneficiary.  The crowd grew from one or two fans a night to over a dozen in our final nights of the NH Cal Ripken District Tournament (which our 10-year-olds went on to win)  Every now and then they would venture over to the concession stand for a hot dog or burger (and “overtip/donate” to the league).  We sent a few kids over with some COVID-19 2020 MCR swag for them as well as all-star hats featuring our prominent “M” logo.

Our announcer/president Bruce Dalpra would welcome them each night.  Over the course of the last three weeks, we grew really close to our fans and the players were crazy about it, rushing down to the field to see their fans.  This past week, on championship night, our right field bleacher creatures donned orange in support of our players and cheered from on high in right field.

For those of us who pour our heart and soul into making sure the kids have a safe and nurturing baseball experience, we are reminded that we are helping others as well, especially during this unprecedented time.  This makes our hearts full.  To our bleacher creatures until 2021, we wish you a wonderful fall and winter – we will see you in the spring

New Cal Ripken field at Stephens Park christened on July 7, 2020.

Story contributed by Jamie Burke, Manchester Cal Ripken League Director and Player Agent with 35 years dedicated to youth sports, the last 10 at Manchester Cal Ripken. Reach him at Burke.james@comcast.net.