VERO BEACH – Country music star Jake Owen, NASCAR champion Kevin Harvick and Baseball Hall of Famer Cal Ripken, Jr. unveiled the Jake Owen Field in Vero Beach last week.
The Jake Owen Field is a new synthetic turf for youth baseball and softball collaboration between the Carl Ripken Sr. Foundation and the Kevin Harvick Foundation.
As a child, the country music artist recalls playing Little League baseball at another field just yards away at the Michael Field Baseball Complex in Vero Beach where he was a pitcher and a catcher.
“Jake Owen, what can you say? He’s our hometown hero,” Vero Beach mayor Laura Moss said. “If he’s not good company, I don’t know who else is.”
Moss presented Jake Owen, Cal Ripken, Jr., and Kevin Harvick with keys to the city.
“Dad was all about helping kids, and he would always use baseball to reach the kids,” Ripken said of his father, Cal Ripken, Sr.
The Baseball Hall of Famer started the Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation in 2001 with Bill Ripken after his father passed away from lung cancer at the age of 62.
Ripken said the foundation is also a way to capture his father’s legacy, which included a special affinity for kids who didn’t have their own father to push them in the right direction.
The organization passes down traits and lessons by Cal, Sr. with leadership, work ethic, responsibility, and are brought to life through a character education curriculum created for at-risk youth.
“This is a group of people that love to help kids,” said Harvick. “This is all about people, and being around great people make great things happen. Jake is a great example of that.”
The NASCAR champion and his wife DeLana started the Kevin Harvick Foundation in 2010 to improve the quality of life and to help underprivileged youth find and realize their dreams.
So far, the couple has contributed more than $2 million to help build youth parks in North Carolina, California, Maryland, and Florida.
Owen said he hopes the field will give kids an opportunity to flourish.
“I know firsthand I’m not a perfect person in the world,” Owen said. “I hope there will be many incredible memories made on this field and that the kids who play here will believe that anything is possible with the support of their community.”
Jake Owen’s field in Vero Beach is state-of-the-art with a digital scoreboard, dugouts, backstop, and bleachers.
The youth park will be maintained by the Indian River Sports Complex, with whom the Ripken Foundation and Harvick Foundation will work closely to implement character education programs.
“Growing up as a baseball kid I was a huge Cal Ripken fan [and] knowing Kevin over the past years I’m very lucky to have friends like this,” Owen said. “I’m so proud to have a legacy now that my name is on this field.”