The Indian River County (IRC) Cal Ripken – Baseball program, a non-profit organization in Indian River County, provides an excellent, fun and educational baseball experience for the youth of Indian River County and the surrounding areas. They teach solid fundamentals of baseball and valuable life lessons that teaches our youth positive values that will help them succeed in life.
In 2018, the IRC Cal Ripken program had roughly 420 student players.
Cal Ripken Baseball is Division of the Babe Ruth League. The Babe Ruth League is an international youth baseball and softball league with a combined size of well over one million players on some 60,000+ teams in more than 11,000 leagues and over 1.9 million volunteers.
On May 13, 2014 the School Board of the School District of IRC entered into a license agreement with Indian River Sports Complex, Inc., [IRC Cal Ripken Florida not-for-profit umbrella] to lease the J. A. Thompson Baseball Field behind the Rosewood Magnet School.
Under terms of the license, the IRC Cal Ripken League, as licensee, has “priority over all potential users,” [of the J. A. Thompson Baseball Field] who would have “no priority over licensee.”
The license expires on May 13, 2019, at which time you might expect it would be renewed.
Here is an email from Michelle Simons, School District Facilities Specialist to Derek Muller, organizer of the (IRC) Cal Ripken – Baseball program, not only confirming the renewal, but also indicating the District wanted to enter into a 10-year renewal, as opposed to the previous five-year license.
———- Forwarded message ———
From: Simons, Michelle <Michelle.Simons@indianriverschools.org>
Date: Tue, Oct 23, 2018, 4:39 PM
Subject: Agreement – Rosewood Field
To: Derek Muller <email@example.com>
Good Afternoon Mr. Muller,
I received your voicemail message yesterday and I apologize for just getting back to you today. Please find attached the current Agreement, which is valid through May 13, 2019. The Facilities Department will be in touch with you shortly after the holidays regarding the agreement renewal, which at the direction of the Assistant Superintendent of Operations will be a 10-year agreement.
Also, in the coming weeks the School District will be issuing a check to Indian River Sports Complex for the annual contribution for utility costs. At your convenience, could you please provide a letter requesting the annual contribution from the District? I have attached the previous letter for your reference.
Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions.
6055 62nd Avenue
Vero Beach, FL 32967
According to Mr. Muller, based on Ms. Simons’ email, the local Ripken league purchased roughly $ 4,000 – $5,000 of equipment preparing for the spring season at the J. A. Thompson Baseball Field, such as athletic equipment and a tin roof for a dugout.
Here’s what happened next.
On Thursday, January 10, 2018, roughly three months after Ms. Simmons’ email, John Teske, Assistant Superintendent of School Operations, left a voice mail for Mr. Muller, of which we have the recording, stating that he [Mr. Teske] had “had to get some time with Dr. Rendell (Superintendent) to meet with him and discuss the options…. we are going to not renew your contract. I know that’s something you do not want to hear…its not going to please you. We want to move in a new direction…You’ve been good tenants but we want great tenants. We need to explore other organizations…”
One of the organizations Mr. Teske had already decided upon is Vero Beach Little League Baseball, of which a source advised he may be one of the organizers.
The fact that this website has been up and running and Vero Beach Little League Baseball is promoting registration suggests this other organization has been in the works for some time.
Didn’t they [Mr. Teske and Dr. Rendell] know about Michelle Simmons’ email confirming the license renewal; as well as the District wanting to enter into a 10-year renewal, as opposed to the previous five-year license?
As an apparent organizer, with others, of the Vero Beach Little League, shouldn’t Mr. Teske have recused himself from a decision not to renew the IRC Cal Ripkin license for the J. A. Thompson Baseball Field behind the Rosewood Magnet School?
Mr. Muller estimates that roughly 120 players will leave the IRC Cal Ripkin league for the Little League. “There are only so many players and having another league will put pressure on us to field our teams and spread the teams too thin. Is the new group going to clean the toilets, mow the fields and all that stuff LONG TERM? You have to run these facilities YEAR ROUND. THIS WAS ONE OF THE REASONS LITTLE LEAGUE FOLDED 6 YEARS AGO. WE HAVE THE EQUIPMENT AND PERSONNEL WITH EXPERTISE IN FIELD MAINTENANCE.”
It is worth noting that the IRC Cal Ripken league is hosting the Cal Ripken state championships this year and plans to do it in the future. But hosting the championships requires that they have four fields; two with lights.
So if they don’t have the J. A. Thompson field they won’t be able to host these events which bring 16 teams into town from around the state for a week, according to Treasure Coast Sports Commission numbers, which would be a half-million-dollar economic impact to the town.
On March 12, 2014, Ann Tench of the TCPalm Newsweekly wrote: “Gone is Little League, that iconic youth baseball organization that had been an integral part of the community for close to 50 years. Unable to reach an agreement with Little League Baseball to merge the two Indian River County divisions — American and National — into one, local officials and parents elected to join the Babe Ruth [Cal Ripken] League that serves over one million players ages 4 through 18.”