Under the new management of Tom Lawless, the 2011 Hooks—the Double-A affiliate of the Houston Astros—look to proclaim bat-swinging dominance in the Texas League. Baseball supporters can claim seats at Whataburger Field, which is built to reflect the feel of a classic ballpark and can hold about 7,000 Hooks fans and three times as many foam fingers. Two wristbands adorn arms and grant access to extracurricular excursions in the Driscoll Children's Hospital Kids Zone, featuring a rock-climbing wall and a chimp-free jungle gym. Along with being able to see the USS Lexington and the Texas State Aquarium from inside the park, fans can enjoy breath-robbing views of the Harbor Bridge and mascots removing their comically oversize heads to observe the National Anthem. After the game, fans can trade their baseball caps for 10-gallon hats as they take in a concert by Tejano rockers Texas Tornados or Green River Ordinance, a quintet of aspiring environmental attorneys moonlighting as talented musicians.
Though they operate more than 200 locations in upwards of 30 states, the team behind U.S. Baseball Academy aims to make each young athlete's experience a personal one. Their four- or six-week camps are taught by local instructors who are current or former coaches at the high school or college level, and typically offer a 6:1 or better player-to-teacher ratio for intense, professional-style training. The Academy's proven itinerary of hitting, pitching, fielding, and baserunning drills was developed by an advisory board of college coaches and Major League players, including Cy Young Award–winner and ace pitcher Brandon Webb.
For more than 130 years, the YMCA has worked to facilitate growth for individuals as well as communities by providing social-enrichment programs that promote honesty, respect, and responsibility. YMCA of Greater San Antonio, which features locations throughout the metropolitan area, helps people improve their lives with healthy living programs that offer inclusive training classes as well as lifelong learning classes. Youth development initiatives and childcare services allow children as well as teens to develop positive behaviors while exploring their interests in a safe, supportive environment. The centers also encourage social responsibility by providing opportunities to support local communities through volunteerism and charitable giving.
Encompassing an 11,000-square-foot indoor batting arena, an air-conditioned clubhouse filled with training videos, and an outdoor plot of screen-enclosed batting cages, Power Swing's facilities help train baseball and softball players of all ages and skill levels. Instructors train students in four private pitching tunnels and let them practice on a turf infield or field hits from regulation-size pitching mounds. Outside, players swing at four T-ball cages, or return machine-pitched volleys from 10 baseball pitchers and nine softball pitchers that launch balls and unwanted vases at up to 80 miles per hour. A team of coaches, many of them former athletes, can also help students hone pitching and hitting skills in private, semiprivate, and small-group lessons, and lead instructional clinics and athletic afterschool programs.