On A Mission: Under Armour and Ripken Baseball Unite in a Landmark Deal. ‘Dad, What Took So Long?’


“This is a partnership and relationship whose time has come,” Under Armour CEO Kevin A. Plank, flanked by Cal and Billy Ripken, said at a press conference at Baltimore’s Sports Legends Museum.  Of the sponsorship deals Under Armour currently has in place, “the affiliation with Ripken Baseball is probably as big as it gets.”

Psssst…Someone might want to let the ‘giant’ know, uh, fellas, it’s official.  The readers of Rumbunter know one thing: we love sports business.  And now this landmark deal joins the original, and our favorite, performance apparel company, Under Armour, with two of the hardest working men in sports, Bill and Cal Ripken’s company, Ripken Baseball.

Two phenomenal companies got together, one is the chosen brand of this generation of athletes.  The other brand is growing the game of baseball worldwide, The Ripken Way.   (The Ripkens literally travel all over the world promoting the game)  The common denominator is all of us at Rumbunter are fortunate to work with great, great people in each organization.

Rumbunter couldn’t be happier for both of these companies that are like ‘family’ to us.   Congratulations to UA. Congratulations to Cal and Billy.

Fran Hill of Under Armour relayed the following great quote from the press conference.  Cal told his son a while ago about the forthcoming deal with Under Armour.  Cal’s son said, “Dad, that’s great.  What took you so long?”

Under Armour will outfit the Aberdeen Ironbirds,  it’s first professional baseball team.  Ok, where can I buy a jersey?  Be sure to mark that down somewhere, that will be great trivia in a few years when UA has complete domination of the baseball market.  What an excellent promotion on May 9th in Aberdeen, the Fan Home Run Derby, think you can go yard?  Check it out at this link.

The Ripken brothers have been insanely busy since trading the jersey for a sports coat.  They own three teams.  Aberdeen, Augusta Green Jackets (former players include Moises Alou, Tim Wakefield, Jason Kendall, Aramis Ramirez, Freddy Sanchez), and Charlotte Stone Crabs.

Ripken Management and Design has built some incredible parks in an impressive portfolio.  If you have had the pleasure of going to a game at one of their parks, you know what we are talking about. Here is a link with some nice pictures of Cal and Billy’s work.

As most of you know, Billy hosts a great show with Cal on XM 175.   The first live show was recorded at Nemacolin Woodlands Resort in 2006.  Here is the link.

In partnering with Ripken Baseball, Under Armour is expanding its support of youth and amateur sports at all levels. Under Armour is now the official uniform of Ripken Baseball and the title sponsor for all 25 Ripken youth baseball tournaments, which boast a cumulative participation of 35,000 players. Furthermore, the Baltimore-based company will outfit the 10 domestic teams participating in this summer’s Cal Ripken World Series and will have on-field signage during the tournament.

In addition, more than 630,000 at-risk youths in the U.S. have been a part of the Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation’s initiative to grow the sport of baseball.

UA also will elevate the “Ripken Way” of training by providing original video content featuring Cal and Billy on its website.  In addition, Ripken Baseball will be involved with the UA All-America Baseball Game as both speakers and instructors.

“Ripken Baseball is proud to partner with Under Armour and to promote, develop and celebrate baseball at all levels.  The IronBirds, in particular, are thrilled to be the first professional baseball team to showcase Under Armour’s uniforms” said Cal Ripken, President and CEO of Ripken Baseball.  “We are excited to be aligned with a brand as powerful as Under Armour.”

The deal had been dreamt about for years.  Well, at least we have been dreaming about it.  Cal’s  longtime partnership with Under Armour competitor, ahem, Nike Inc., ended Dec. 31.

My belief is that Nike couldn’t provide the support a growing brand like Ripken Baseball needs.  The Ripken brothers are growing an empire.  Empires need attention.  Nike is a massive company with such a wide scope that personal attention to a client isn’t a strong point.  UA will devour this market.  Cal and Billy, you made a great partner today.

UA wins on numerous levels with this deal.  An older demographic is gained and its ties to youth baseball in the U.S. and internationally grow as a result.   UA set its sights on grabbing youth sports and international market share long ago.  This deal only improves that strategy.

UA is a dominant force around the youth sports industry by sponsoring recreational teams (UA sponsors our old man softball team) and major youth tournaments, including the Under Armour All-America high school football and lacrosse games. The company also sponsors high school football scouting combines in 14 U.S. cities.

Under Armour also hopes to build its business overseas, likely through the launch of a soccer cleat and by outfitting professional soccer and rugby teams. The company outfits Hannover 96, a professional soccer team in Germany.

For Ripken Baseball, youth sports is the company’s focus. The Ripkens began holding annual youth camps and clinics in 1999.  The youth apparel category made up $56.5 million, or 8 percent, of Under Armour’s 2008 revenue of $725.2 million. And about 9 percent of the company’s 2008 revenue was from overseas.

Look around at a youth ball game this weekend.  UA has it surrounded.  My guy is five.  He has no idea that any other brand even exists.  And if I told him what brand I was a fan of growing up, well, that’s the last thing he would want on his body.

 Ripken Baseball

Under Armour