Legendary Public Diplomacy Envoy Cal Ripken, Jr. Is a Big Hit at State!

September 23, 2019

On September 18, the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) joined forces with the U.S. Diplomacy Center to host a conversation with Hall of Famer Cal Ripken, Jr. and Foreign Service Officer Joel Ehrendriech on the power of baseball to promote positive global social change.

ECA Assistant Secretary Marie Royce opened the event, which was held in the U.S. Diplomacy Center, by welcoming Mr. Ripken and describing ECA’s use of sports diplomacy to build bridges between Americans and people around the world at the grassroots level. Director of the U.S. Diplomacy Center Mary Kane moderated this special dialogue with Mr. Ripken and Mr. Ehrendriech, which highlighted the outside and inside workings of sports diplomacy at home and abroad.

In a down-to-earth way, Mr. Ripken shared his experiences as a Sports Diplomacy Envoy in China, Nicaragua, Japan, and the Czech Republic. He told the over 150 guests how baseball serves as an “icebreaker” for him to “connect directly with kids.” Not only does he lead baseball drills and clinics, Mr. Ripken shows young people how the skills and teamwork needed on the field apply to school and life off of the field. Mr. Ehrendriech provided an on-the-ground perspective as to how U.S. Embassies and Consulates tap into sports—baseball in particular—to connect with the country’s people from the community to the governmental levels.

As Mr. Ripken underscored…“sports takes down walls and barriers” to open up communication and connectivity regardless of one’s different walks of life.

Following the conversation, guests enjoyed hotdogs in the U.S. Diplomacy Center and continued to reminisce about America’s national pastime—baseball! The roar of the crowd from social media posts speaks for itself…and the U.S. Department of State looks forward to sending Mr. Ripken out again!