Ripken Foundation Brings New Field to Kansas City

By Matt Tritten |

Published 06/25 2014 05:47PM

Updated 06/25 2014 08:06PM

(KANSAS CITY, Mo.) Long before Cal Ripken, Jr. began his 21-year hall of fame career in Major League Baseball, you could find him on the diamond.

"My dad was in the minor leagues for the first 14 years of my life," Ripken said. "We were at a baseball park earlier than my earliest memory. That was normal for us. It was like being in a house."

Now Ripken's bringing the game to less fortunate kids throughout the country.

The Cal Ripken, Senior Foundation was established in 2001 to reach out to youth across the United States, and it's left an impact on Kansas City.

Tuesday marked the opening to Daniel's Field, an adaptive ball park that gives kids with disabilities an even playing field.

"I know the value of sport. I know the feeling it gave me," Ripken said. "I know the lessons that you can teach within the sport, and all kids should have the opportunity to learn those lessons."

Along with Ripken, current and former Royals were on-hand for the event including Jeff Montgomery, Lorenzo Cain and Michael Mariot.

"It's great to put a smile on these kids' faces, get them active," Mariot said. "I love doing everything I can to make that happen."

One player in particular was thrilled with the final product.

The field is the namesake of Daniel Oakes, a 13-year-old young man that's loved baseball his entire life.

"This was unbelievable," Oakes said. "To have the field named after me, I was... I'm still speechless."

Daniel was born seven months premature with cerebral palsy, but that hasn't tapered his love for the sport.

"He's been an inspiration to me, my whole family, and just in general," Danny Oakes, Daniel's father, said. "He doesn't know 'I can't.' There is no 'I can't' in Daniel."

Even though he may not go on to become a hall of fame baseball player it's not going to keep him off the field, because Daniel already decided that his disability won't hold him back.

"If you want to do something, now's the time to do it. Never say 'I can't.' And even though you may do something different, you may do it a little bit better."

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