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Aug 23rd
Home Columns Unsolicited Advice Secretary of State Rice Starts "Baseball Diplomacy"
Secretary of State Rice Starts "Baseball Diplomacy" PDF Print E-mail
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Columns - Unsolicited Advice
Thursday, 16 August 2007 05:08

Unsolicited Advice: Reinventing America"

On July 29, 2007, I wrote about "Baseball Diplomacy" in my column "Unsolicited Advice: Reinventing America." If you want to read it again, please just click on this link

Exactly 15 days later, Secretary Condoleezza Rice announced the appointment of Baseball Great and Hall of Famer Cal Ripken, Jr., as Special Sports Envoy of the United States.

I directed my column to Bill Richardson, a former American ambassador to the United Nations. He is now the governor of the Great State of New Mexico and an aspirant for the Democratic Party nomination for President. I sent Governor Richardson’s campaign office a copy of the said column by e-mail and by fax. But his office never even acknowledged receipt of, or much more sent thanks for, my suggestion.

Well, now that Secretary of State Rice has launched the beginning of "Baseball Diplomacy," perhaps Mr. Richardson and all the presidential aspirants would take note of it.

Here are the excerpts from Secretary Rice’s remarks and those of Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Karen Hughes and Mr. Ripken.

To view a video coverage, please just click on this link

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UNDER SECRETARY HUGHES: Well, good morning. I want to thank you all for joining us for the announcement of our second American public diplomacy envoy, someone whose character and great achievements will help us share the best of America with the rest of the world. When we created the American public diplomacy envoy position last year, it was part of a larger effort to encourage our fellow Americans from all walks of life -- business, sports, academia, nongovernment, community and faith-based organizations to join in America's public diplomacy efforts . . .

Growing up, one of the enduring American lessons that my own parents taught me was that in this land of opportunity, you can achieve anything if you are willing to work hard for it. The envoy we announce today embodies that spirit of hard work, perseverance and great achievement. And as the mother of a young man who played baseball, I think I can speak for many parents in expressing my gratitude for his positive and powerful example. To announce our new envoy, I’m pleased to welcome our Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

SECRETARY RICE: Thank you very much, Karen. It’s a pleasure to welcome you all here this morning. I’m especially pleased to be in the company of a truly great sports legend. You all know that I, myself, had I had my choice in life, would have been a truly great sports legend but the next best thing is to stand next to one. So thank you very much, Cal Ripken, for being here.

Baseball is America’s national pastime, a sport that truly defines American culture. It is only fitting that the face of our national pastime would be one of the faces that America shows the world as our next public diplomacy envoy.

Like all of our greatest sports heroes, Cal Ripken is recognized for bringing integrity to the game of baseball and by extension to all of sports. He is revered, not just by fans, but by all for his character, his perseverance, his work ethic. The real-life iron man gives us all -- gives all credit to his upbringing. In Cal’s household, there was one mandate: You had to report to work every day. It’s a lesson his dad instilled in both Cal and his brother, Bill, who also played for his dad when Ripken, Sr., was managing the Orioles. The trio are the only father and sons combination to play for the same organization at the same time in Major League history.

Most people know Cal Ripken, Jr., for his accomplishments on the baseball field, his record-breaking streak of playing in 2,632 consecutive Major League games, his 19 All Star appearances, and especially his 21-year career with one team, his beloved Baltimore Orioles. But I can tell you with certainty Cal’s work since leaving the game of baseball in 2001, further highlights why he’s America’s MVP.

Since the leaving the game, Cal Ripken, Jr., has dedicated his life and his work to youth, not only here in America, but also around the world. He established the Cal Ripken, Sr., Foundation, which teaches life lessons through baseball to disadvantaged youth, and he has built the Ripken Youth Baseball Academy, the largest baseball academy in the United States, where thousands of young people learn the finer points of the game and deepen their love for playing it.

As if that weren’t enough, Cal is the man behind the Cal Ripken World Series for 11 and 12 year olds from all over the world. He has written books on teaching baseball and parenting young athletes, as well as a children’s book teaching kids how to persevere through difficult times.

He’s also served as the first commissioner of the White House Tee ball initiative for President George W. Bush from 2001 to 2004. When commenting on the streak and breaking Lou Gehrig’s record for consecutive games played, Ripken said, "Didn’t seem like such a big deal when I was doing it, one game at a time, show up, and try to meet the challenges of the day." So by that, Cal, I assume that whenever I call you, you’re going to be hard at work for America.

Public diplomacy cannot be an American monologue; it must be a dialog with people from around the world. That dialog must be sought out and conducted, not only by people like us in government, but by committed Americans from all walks of life, Americans like Cal Ripken, Jr. He truly exemplifies America at its best, our aspirations to be a better nation and to help build a better world.

Just recently when Cal accepted admission into Baseball’s Hall of Fame, he talked about being an ambassador for the future and leaving a mark on the world, just as a baseball player tries to leave his mark on the game and make it better than he found it. I have no doubt that as he begins this tenure, Cal will be an excellent envoy of the American people to men and women all around the world; and it is, therefore, my great pleasure and my honor to introduce our newest American public diplomacy envoy, Hall of Famer, Cal Ripken, Jr.

MR. RIPKEN: Hall of Fame a couple of weeks ago and now this honor bestowed upon me by the State, that’s a pretty good little run, pretty good little streak. As most of you know and as I reference in this speech, I had a great career in baseball, and I had a wonderful time playing it. I could catch, hit and throw, couldn’t run terribly well, but it didn’t matter too much in my game. But I was able to reach out and have a positive influence on kids, and we’ve had great success since I retired. I have the Cal, Sr., Foundation that deals with disadvantaged kids. We use baseball as a hook to try to get them involved in things and teach them life lessons that dad taught us. We have the academies that teach baseball to them and really celebrate baseball in a way. Books, you know, DVDs, those sorts of things, we continue to grow, and this is one more step that gives me an opportunity to use that platform to go out there and reach kids.

I happen to think that sport -- baseball, in particular -- is very magical. It can go across cultural lines. It can appeal to all kids and all people. We have the World Series going on right now up in Aberdeen, Maryland, the Cal Ripken World Series. We have six international teams. Although it’s difficult for me to communicate with the Koreans -- I don’t speak Korean -- and the Japanese as well, but when you put them out on the baseball field and you start seeing them in baseball, then the communication obstacles go away and everybody communicates in a really nice way and there’s a great interaction between all the kids all around this country and around the world. And, hopefully, we’ll be able to send that message, plant a few seeds in different parts of the world and use baseball and sport to actually cross over cultural lines.

You know the first step we’ve had 12 coaches from China that came in to our complex and we’ve been running them through our very interactive style of teaching, and they’ve been going through all the same programs that the seven-year-olds, all the way up to the higher levels go through. We enjoy their flare for the -- and the spirit of their fundamentals that they were going around teaching.

So the second step is to go to China, and we’re going to China in the end of October, early November, and they’ll invite me in -- into their system. And I’ll assist them in planting those seeds, going to schools, or teaching clinics. And, again, the hope is that we’ll just plant a few seeds of -- that will grow through baseball and we’ll promote baseball a little bit. But the real fact of the matter is we’re appealing to kids, and we’re showing them a good example and some of the great things that can happen through sport.

And so I’m really excited and I’m very honored by this opportunity. And I know I’m going to be answering a few questions in a few moments, but I just really wanted to open up by saying it’s a tremendous honor. I look forward to representing, as I always did with baseball, and yourself as you went around playing baseball, I’m now representing, you know, the United States abroad and just trying to pass on and continue to do some of the things we’ve been able to do successfully to the kids over here. Thank you.

To read the official State Department press release, please just go to 

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Last Updated on Sunday, 04 November 2007 07:24

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