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The City Journals

Riverton City works around Cal Ripken/Babe Ruth boundaries

Mar 08, 2018 03:39PM ● By Mariden Williams

The current Cal Ripken/Babe Ruth boundaries are causing a headache for Riverton City. (Hunter/Cyprus Babe Ruth)

For years, the local Riverton Baseball Organization has chartered with state-level youth baseball organization Cal Ripken/Babe Ruth, and its affiliation with Cal Ripken is currently a requirement for it to be recognized as a volunteer organization by Riverton City officials. 

Until recently, Riverton was the only one of several surrounding cities to charter with Cal Ripken, which meant that the Riverton Baseball Organization was drawing players not only from Riverton, but also from Bluffdale, Herriman and South Jordan.

“We were basically helping our surrounding communities provide baseball programs for youth that wanted to be part of Cal Ripken/Babe Ruth,” said City Attorney and interim City Manager Ryan Carter. “We tolerated that, realizing that far and away the majority of the students, the players, were Riverton residents.”

But recently, Herriman and South Jordan have both chartered with Cal Ripken, which means that Cal Ripken officials have needed to draw up new league boundaries, which they have done. The problem is the new league boundaries were drawn to match up with high school boundaries rather than with city boundaries. Near the Riverton/Herriman border, the Cal Ripken boundary line cuts into Riverton in such a way that a good chunk of Riverton baseball players are transferred to Herriman leagues. 

“I think that Cal Ripken/Babe Ruth quite innocently didn’t think about the layer of city government associated with this and just thought that they wanted to try to give their students the best advantage in terms of keeping baseball teams together and cohesive as the players aged up into high school,” said Carter.

“Even though it was probably not intended, my area is right now not feeling the love,” said Councilmember Sheldon Stewart, whose district is the one most drastically affected by the new Cal Ripken boundaries. I’ll just say that’s the resounding message that I’ve gotten from quite a few people.” 

Consequently, the Riverton City Council is floating the possibility of a resolution that would allow Riverton Baseball to, if it so desired, cut its affiliation with Cal Ripken while still doing business with the city. The way the rules are currently written, if Riverton Baseball disaffiliates with Cal Ripken, it also disaffiliates with Riverton.

“Riverton is the only one that has had, in the surrounding cities, this type of ordinance written in,” said Stewart. “If you go and you talk to Herriman or South Jordan, they will tell you that they do not require an affiliation to recognize a program like Herriman Baseball. They don’t say that it requires Cal Ripken.”

 Riverton City officials have since reached out to state-level Cal Ripken executives, who appear to be cooperative and have said that if parents living near the league border want to enroll their kids in Riverton’s baseball organization rather than Herriman’s, they would be allowed to do that. City leaders have yet to get that in writing, but they don’t anticipate problems.

But there are other differences of opinion between Riverton Baseball and Cal Ripken as well. Riverton Baseball is interested in doing in-tact leagues, which are try-out based, so that kids end up on a team with players of similar skill level. 

“That way you don’t have a kid that’s way ahead of the other kids on the baseball team in terms of development, playing amongst them and kind of causing safety concerns,” said Carter. “It’s an issue that is kind of causing some friction between Riverton Baseball and Cal Ripken/Babe Ruth.”

The opening of a new high school in the Riverton/Herriman area next year will likely muddy the boundary lines even further. Riverton leaders hope to talk further with Cal Ripken, Herriman and Bluffdale officials before coming to any conclusions. The issue has been tabled for the first meeting in March.