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Carlsbad baseball coach turns 'Diamond in the Rough' into 'Field of Dreams'

Carlsbad High School celebrates 'Ralph Cripe Day' to honor the dedicated teacher and baseball coach.

CARLSBAD, Calif. — A North County man is being honored for turning a 'Diamond in the Rough' into a beautiful baseball field. In this Zevely Zone, I visited Carlsbad High School on Ralph Cripe Day. Carlsbad High has one of the best high school baseball fields in the nation and one man who doesn't want credit for any of it.

"Welcome to Ralph Cripe Field on Ralph Cripe Day," said the announcer as people found their seats. In the 1970s, Ralph Cripe became a teacher and baseball coach at Carlsbad High.  

Credit: Ralph Cripe Day

In his younger days, Ralph was once called a bent nail. "Well, I was by far not a great student and really didn't like going to class," said Ralph.  

Credit: Ralph Cripe Day

But Ralph always did like a challenge. "Pretty pitiful yeah," said Ralph while talking about the school's baseball field in the late '70s. "We had no resources," said Ralph who dedicated his life to changing that. The seats we were sitting on during our interview came from a Major League baseball stadium. "They came from Anaheim stadium," said Ralph.

Credit: Ralph Cripe Day

In the past 50 years, Ralph helped raise more than two million dollars to build his field of dreams. The white lines are perfectly straight. The grass is immaculate. The wall is filled with advertisers. USA Today once proclaimed it one of the Top 20 High School baseball fields in the country. "You know my wife calls it the other lady," said Ralph.

"I always called it the other woman because I always knew where he was at and who he was taking care of," said Ralph's wife Juanita of 36 years who begged her husband to let the community honor him. "He deserves it because he is one that never wants the light on him," said Juanita. "The best thing is being a role model for these young guys, and they see it and they follow suit."

Credit: Ralph Cripe Day

"He's a legend honestly. The field looks good day in and day out," said the Lancer's baseball player Griffin Moye who plays at the park with pride. Griffin says when the team travels to other fields they can see the difference "Oh yeah, there is a big difference. There is no field that compares to Ralph Cripe's field," said Griffin.

"One of the greatest men I've ever known," said Assistant Coach Denny Cooper. He started off as Mr. Cripe's student and that was just the beginning. "He was in my wedding in 1983 which is pretty crazy but that shows you how close he was to me and what a mentor he was to me," said Coach Cooper.

Credit: Ralph Cripe Day

They then coached together and won a CIF Championship with head coach Joe Pimentel in 1989. "It's awesome. It's a long time coming," said Joe. He's talking about Ralph being immortalized on T-shirts. "We have our beloved Ralph Cripe on the back, our field whisperer," said a booster club member.  

As for the field with his name on it, Ralph had this to say, "If it wasn't there it wouldn't make any difference to me," said Ralph.  Which is why it took decades for him to approve 'Ralph Cripe Day'. "There is not an 'I' in what 'We' did for this field," said Ralph in front of the fans.  

A man who was started off as a bent nail, hammered a homer for his community. "The reward in all of this is in the journey," said Ralph. Whether he likes it or not, Ralph Cripe got a standing ovation. "Thanks, Ralph, way to go, Ralph!" yelled the crowd.

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