ALEXANDRIA, VA–The Alexandria Aces, a collegiate summer league baseball team playing at Frank Mann Field in Four Mile Run Park, currently sit in second place at 15-11, entering the final stretch of their 36-game season.
The Cal Ripken Collegiate Baseball League, of which the Aces are a part, began in 2005 to promote baseball in the Baltimore-Washington Metropolitan area. Named in honor of Cal Ripken Sr., a baseball manager for the Baltimore Orioles who helped pass down the fundamentals of the game to generations of players, the league consists of six teams located around the D.C. Area and welcomes college baseball players from all over the country to join during their offseason. It’s considered one of the best collegiate baseball leagues in the U.S., with major league scouts attending several games each year. It’s not uncommon for players to get signed; in fact, Kyle Zimmer, a former Alexandria Aces player, was drafted in the first round by the Kansas City Royals in 2012. He continues to pitch for them to this day.
Now, the season itself is nothing short of a sprint as league play begins in early June and finishes up July 24.
Currently in their 13th season, the Aces, led by Coach Chris Berset, jumped out to a hot start before getting rattled with a few injuries, chief among them being Auburn baseball player Josh Hall, who was batting a team best .412.
But first year majority owner Frank Fannon has brought in a few new players of his own to replace the injured, and now, after a four-game losing streak, the Aces won seven in a row before losing to the D.C. Grays on Sunday.
“We have these new players coming in, so we’re excited. We need a little reboot. Just like a lot of teams when you get some new blood in there, you get a positive player; it can kinda pick up everybody else around them,” said Fannon.
While certainly looking to win their first-ever championship in the league, Fannon says that the main goal is to “break even and have fun.” A non-profit organization, and an affiliate of the MLB for which the team receives a small grant, funding mainly comes through generous donations by individuals and corporations alike. Several sponsor nights also happen throughout the season to bring people together, like Women And Girls In Baseball Night, which took place June 30. Alexandrians really appreciate the team and what it does for the community.
“Any organization in the city that wants to have a get-together might as well have it at the Aces’ baseball game. It can be like the company picnic; the family reunion; a neighborhood get-together, whatever; and it’s just been a great time for Alexandrians to get together and spend some summer evenings,” says Fannon.
Each year, the Aces rely on Alexandrians’ hospitality to house the incoming players, giving them access to a bed, and most importantly – at least for those around them – a washer and dryer. You see, when you play six days a week in the blistering D.C. heat, your jersey needs to be washed immediately. There are also a plethora of other volunteer opportunities within the organization, like internships, and those interested should contact General Manager Aidan Lansburgh at 703-623-5230.
In terms of future plans, Fannon wants to work towards growing the attendance and overall fan experience. Through the Aces’ summer baseball camp, he would like to help pass on the fundamentals of the game to Alexandria youth, just like Cal Ripken did.
“We wanna get some kids in Alexandria that might not necessarily be able to afford the baseball camp, get them scholarships through our charitable organization to expose them to baseball,” says Fannon.
Clearly, the Alexandria Aces are positively impacting the community, and Fannon is enjoying every second of it.
“I’m a life-long Alexandrian; I used to be on the city council. I’m all about trying to help out the community and do some good for Alexandria, and I think this is just a great, fun-filled entertainment option for all Alexandrians.”
Anyone wanting to catch a game can do so on July 14th, 18th, 19th, or 21st at Frank Mann Field, where the Aces look to close out the season strong before the playoffs start on July 24th. Also, be sure to follow them on Twitter @Alexandria_Aces for the latest updates, and as always, go Aces!