SCOREBOARDSt. Anthony gets a visit from baseball legend Ripken, Jr.

Team8 Tour brings equipment, improvements to the school

It all began innocently in Baltimore four years ago, when legendary St. Anthony Hall of Fame basketball coach Bob Hurley was presented with an award of appreciation for his amazing work as a basketball coach, school official and the building’s top fundraiser.

Hurley drove to Baltimore to receive the Cal Ripken, Sr. Humanitarian Award, given by the organization named after the father of the Baltimore Orioles’ larger-than-life Hall of Fame shortstop Cal Ripken, Jr.

“I got to meet Cal and realized just how amazing he is,” Hurley said. “It was so unbelievable how down to earth he was. He wanted to talk about his high school basketball days. So did Andre Dawson and Eddie Murray. Here I am talking basketball with three of the greatest baseball players ever.”
Dawson and Murray are also members of the National Baseball Hall of Fame, like Ripken.

As part of the award Hurley received from the Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation, the school was presented with a check for $25,000. Anything that the financially beleaguered downtown Jersey City school could receive is a blessing.

But it didn’t end there.

“I was so impressed with what he does,” Ripken, Jr. said of Hurley. “I love Bob Hurley. He’s been doing this for a long time. And we’re not talking about winning basketball games. We’re talking about changing lives. When my brother Bill and I started the Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation after Dad died, we wanted to capture the legacy of Dad’s life.”

The elder Ripken, a long-time coach and one-time manager of the Baltimore Orioles, died in 1999. The Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation was formed by the two Ripken sons to implement youth development programs that directly address the problems of at-risk youngsters and to bring people from all walks of life together to help those who need it.

Bill Ripken also played for the Orioles and currently serves as a broadcaster for the MLB Network.

“Dad used to go all over the place to give free baseball clinics,” Ripken, Jr. said. “The Foundation just wants to continue what Dad started in helping kids move in the right direction. Dad would have been happy just helping a few kids. But we’re helping kids all over the country, using baseball as the basis.”

Over the past five years, the Ripken Foundation has developed partnerships that has allowed for the creation of 55 parks across the country, impacting close to one million kids nationwide.

“We don’t have an ego in the foundation,” Ripken, Jr. explained. “We’re a partnership that wants to impact more kids.”

And that mission brought the baseball icon to Jersey City last Tuesday to help springboard the Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation’s commitment to St. Anthony.

More than 100 volunteers from UnitedHealthCare, CBS EcoMedia Inc. and the Ripken Foundation – a group called the Team8 Tour – came to St. Anthony to help refurbish bathrooms, classrooms, outside areas and the school’s weight room in whirlwind fashion, no less.

The group planned to have all the work completed to the area within two days. Now, where can one find a local contractor who could work that fast?

Cal Ripken, Sr. and his brother were both on hand to see the project take place. The Team8 Tour already made stops in Houston, Charlotte and Raleigh and had plans to visit Chicago, Los Angeles and Denver with similar improvement projects.

The tireless workers arrived Tuesday morning and went right to work, putting together a garden with planted flowers and vegetables, assembling state-of-the-art equipment for the weight room and breaking down a classroom that will eventually become a computer lab.

More than $50,000 of athletic equipment was donated in order to rebuild the school’s weight room.

“The weight room is just part of being better in sports,” Ripken said. “It’s giving the student/athletes a good safe place to be.”

And it all began with a simple award at a dinner.

“Everyone knows Bob’s story of success,” Ripken said. “It was all about, ‘How can we help you?’ You know he’s committed to helping others. That’s our mission. His program is legendary, but the most impressive thing is who he is as a person. He’s so admirable. He’s made such a positive impact on this community. We’re happy to help.”

Steve Salem, the president of the Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation, fell in love with the St. Anthony story after seeing the documentary “The Street Stops Here,” a few years ago. It was Salem who recommended Hurley to receive the award four years ago and pushed for the Team8 Tour to visit St. Anthony last week.

“We’re always looking for people who have the passion that Cal and Bill have,” Salem said. “It’s deep passion and compassion. It’s rare to find someone of Bob Hurley’s stature. We see how much people like that do for the community, so we try to help those with that rare quality.”

Incredibly, the Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation donated $30,000 to St. Anthony last year – but that gift simply flew under the radar with not many people knowing about it.

“Cal never wants it to look like he’s doing it for attention,” Salem said. “We don’t announce what we’re doing. But the more we got to know Bob and Chris Hurley [the coach’s wife], the more we wanted to do to help them.”

So there they were Tuesday, the two respective Hall of Famers, one baseball, one basketball, together for one cause – making St. Anthony High School look and feel better.

“I can’t tell enough people that there are people like this in the world,” Hurley said of Cal Ripken. “This is a legend, a baseball Hall of Famer here. This is a serious dude here. As for the work, it’s been incredible, a two-day blitz. There are still things that need to be done, but I think the students will be very surprised with the changes made to the school.”

The flower beds in front of the school and the vegetable garden in the back are two instant reminders. The weight room in the basement will be another. It all started because of a simple meeting at an awards dinner.

“And we’re going to continue with the partnership,” Ripken said. “It doesn’t end here.”

That’s even more rewarding news for St. Anthony. It’s always good to have another Hall of Famer around to spruce up the place.

Jim Hague can be reached via e-mail at You can also read Jim’s blog at


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