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Badges for Baseball

Badges for Baseball

Protecting Virginia's most vulnerable citizens.

What is Badges for Baseball? 
How did the program evolve?


What is Badges for Baseball?

Badges for Baseball is a crime prevention initiative that encourages healthy out-of-school activities, while improving relationships between law enforcement personnel and at-risk youth. Law enforcement volunteers and Boys & Girls Clubs staff use baseball, "Quickball" and softball to deliver vital life lessons to these student participants in a fun, engaging way. Badges for Baseball brings the tenets of “The Ripken Way” to young people through the foundation’s character education curriculum, Healthy Choices, Healthy Children (HCHC), and baseball and softball themed activities.

The attorney general's office partners with the Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation to provide the Badges for Baseball program throughout Virginia.

Attorney General Cuccinelli with Badges for Baseball participants.Along with the Virginia Alliance of Boys & Girls Clubs, the U.S. Department of Justice, and local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies, this year-round program pairs law enforcement professionals as mentors and coaches with youth from local Boys & Girls Clubs in many areas of the commonwealth.

Virginia is the national model for the statewide Badges for Baseball program. Thanks to Virginia’s proven track record of innovation with public safety programs and its success with prevention and intervention initiatives, the foundation identified the commonwealth as the state in which to inaugurate its Badges for Baseball program as a statewide initiative. Click here to read more about the program.

Badges for Baseball also works to improve relationships between law enforcement and youth through cooperation, collaboration, and mutual respect. As young people get excited about baseball, and learn crucial life lessons, they also see their local law enforcement officials in a new and different light – as coaches, mentors and positive role models in their lives. Additionally, law enforcement personnel get to see a new side to these young adults. They become friends and the bond between them enables the law enforcement mentors to better understand the challenges that these young people face each day.

By surrounding these children with strong role models and encouraging healthy choices and positive out-of-school activities, we compete with gangs and other negative forces that might surround them.

Badges for Baseball is a fun, safe, crime prevention program with support from the Ripken family and a history of success in Virginia’s communities. All of the prevention and intervention programs developed or supported by the OAG are designed to curb youth violence by offering an alternative to the underprivileged youth of Virginia. Youth have the capacity to make better choices if they have better choices available to them. Providing alternative out of school activities to keep kids off the streets and engaged with law enforcement mentors will ultimately build stronger and safer neighborhoods.

How did the program evolve?

In the first year of the program, Badges for Baseball was implemented in communities across Virginia, including the Richmond metro area, Norfolk, Newport News, Hampton, Gloucester, Mathews, Danville, Lynchburg, Warrenton, Winchester, Harrisonburg, Bristol, Emporia, Fort Monroe, Quantico, and Langley AFB. More than 1,500 youth completed the program. In addition to the site-based programming, throughout the year, the Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation held 11 one-day clinics throughout the state of Virginia for approximately 300 program participants.

Badges For BaseballFollowing a tremendous first year, the program returned to Virginia for second season. In 2008, Badges for Baseball expanded its reach across Virginia and was implemented in several communities, including metro Richmond, Petersburg, the Northern Neck, Stafford County, Norfolk, Spotsylvania County, the Virginia Peninsula, Bristol, Fauquier, Lynchburg, and Danville. 1,800 Virginia youth participated in the Badges for Baseball program in 2008 at 16 sites. The Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation, in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Justice, provided more than $198,693 in funding, plus equipment and Healthy Choices, Healthy Children program materials.

Additionally, The Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation supports local Badges for Baseball programs by sending staff to provide ongoing training and technical support. In 2008, Foundation staff embarked on a “Play Ball Tour” to selected cities across Virginia. In each city they visited, Foundation staff provided a training session for coaches and law enforcement volunteers to acquaint them with “The Ripken Way.” The training aided the volunteers and Boys & Girls Clubs staff in extending their influence beyond the playing field. The Foundation staff also hosted city-wide youth baseball clinics in select locations, consistent with the statewide initiative.
In the spring and summer of 2009, the Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation kicked off the third year of “Badges for Baseball” across Virginia. In 2009, the foundation provided more than $264,000 in program value to deserving young people across Virginia.

On Saturday May 1, 2010, the year’s program kicked off with a coach’s clinic for 75 volunteer coaches at the Diamond in Richmond. The coaches learned the fundamentals of baseball “the Ripken Way” and techniques in coaching youth and engaging new players.  That evening, the Richmond Flying Squirrels hosted 200 young people and law enforcement mentors from Badges for Baseball programs in Richmond, Lynchburg, Stafford County, and the Virginia Peninsula. The kids got to kick off the game on the field with Secretary of Public Safety Marla Decker, Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, representatives from the Virginia State Police, and Richmond Police Chief Bryan Norwood.  Attorney General Cuccinelli started the game with a ceremonial first pitch, a fast ball in the strike zone. Everyone stayed to watch the Squirrels win the game and enjoy a beautiful evening of baseball. 

Bainbridge Boys and Girls Club - before photoBainbridge Boys and Girls Club - After photo

Bainbridge Boys and Girls Club - Before and After

A grant from the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services brought the program to more than 500 youth in three Virginia sites in 2011 – Richmond’s East End, Lynchburg, and Newport News.  To celebrate the end of the 2011-2012 program, youth from Boys & Girls Clubs across the Commonwealth participated in a baseball and softball clinic at Richard J. November Field. Located at the Boys & Girls Club on Bainbridge Street, Richard J. November Field is a brand new, state of the art turf field, built to give youth a safe environment to learn and play. At the event, youth participants received basic baseball and softball instruction, while interacting with the programs’ community law enforcement mentors. Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli spoke to the youth about choosing their future, and emphasized that their potential is unlimited, as long as they make the right choices in their lives.
To find out more information about getting involved with Badges for Baseball, visit the Cal Ripken, Sr. foundation website.