The Yard Baseball Academy's one-hour private lesson allows players to work one-on-one with expert instructors and combines a half-hour hitting session with a half-hour pitching session to help athletes develop prowess on both sides of the ball. Tailored to the specific needs and seed-spitting habits of the player, the lesson takes place in a spacious, turf-laden training facility with a full-length batting cage, throwing lanes, and weight- and speed-training equipment that cultivate skills in all aspects of the game. Step into the batter's box to work with hitting coach and former Washington Nationals player Kory Casto on bolstering bat speed and power. Chris Pine, former Oregon State pitcher and U.S. Olympic team invitee, takes over for the pitching session, lending an in-depth knowledge of wind-up and release mechanics to help his students gain the abilities to pick apart the strike zone and win stuffed pandas at state fairs.
For decades, the city of Tacoma was the minor league home of MLB teams from across the country. It hosted affiliates of the San Francisco Giants, the Chicago Cubs, and even the New York Yankees for one season. In 1995, the Seattle Mariners took over Tacoma's team and instantly inherited the long-time organizational name, the Rainiers. The alliance has seen much success over the years, including a Pacific Coast League championship in 2010, a title the club had to win on the road while Cheney Stadium was groggy from anesthesia as it endured drastic renovations.
Those renovations earned the facility a "2011 Renovation of the Year" award from Ballpark Digest. Once dubbed the "100-Day Wonder" thanks to its hasty construction before the 1960 season, Cheney Stadium features an iconic 75-foot wooden exterior façade. Inside, the stadium now boasts such modern amenities as luxury suites, a restaurant, and a grass berm along right field. Despite all the updates, though, the stadium has preserved its epic 29-foot tall batter's eye in centerfield, which sits a distant 425 feet—or, the equivalent of 5,437 sunflower seeds—from home plate.
The Seattle Mariners have represented Washington since 1977. And since 1999, the team has dazzled hometown crowds at Safeco Field. The park boasts an elaborate scoreboard system that features the largest video screen in baseball. A convertible rooftop covers the ballpark without closing it off, preserving an open-air environment that allows fans to bask in fresh Seattle breezes.
The whoosh of baseballs against protective screens and leather mitts drifts through Extra Innings’ 11,000-square-foot facility even when rain is pouring down and baseball season seems far away. Athletes training for all levels of play can shut themselves in under the black meshing of eight multiuse batting and pitching tunnels, where they crush ball after ball to sharpen the minute movements of their swing. The tunnels, one of which is equipped with ProBatter ATEC7600 simulator, are all equipped with L screens and ping machines and are ideal for practicing sliders. A staff of current and former professional, college, and high-school athletes offers step-by-step instruction and on baseball- and softball-specific strength conditioning. In private lessons and group clinics, Extra Innings puts students of all ages on the path toward big-league skills such as hitting the curve and spitting sunflower seeds into the shape of a beautiful sunset.
Staff Size: 11?25 people
Average Duration of Services: 30?60 minutes
Brands Used: Easton
Handicap Accessible: Yes
Parking: Parking lot
Most Popular Attraction/Offering: Batting cages and retail area
Recommended Age Group: All ages
Pro Tip: [Wear] tennis shoes only on turf.
It can be hard to know exactly what areas you need to improve upon as an athlete, which is why facilities such as Sammamish Baseball Academy exist. Players here can train with everyone from former college and minor-league players to those who have played in the majors, including Ian Gac. These trainers use RightView Pro video-analysis software to break down a young player's mechanics and compare them to those of current major leaguers, as well as teach them the fundamentals, including calligraphy for future autographs.
Young players practice on the 11,500-square-foot facility's clay bullpen mound with three pitching rubbers, in its full-size weight room, and in its four batting cages, which are retractable and open up to help players work on their defensive skills. Two of the cages are equipped with an ATEC pitching machine, which hurls balls and "hey batter batter" chants so players will be prepared for future games. While players train, parents can hang out in a lounge equipped with free WiFi and TV.
Baseball players can't skimp on their hitting, pitching, and catching skills if they want to dominate the game—a fact that the instructors at Northshore Sports Complex know well. In 1982, Cody Webster earned the title of MVP while playing for the Kirkland Nationals All-Star Team—the first US team to win the Little League World Series. He continued to play throughout high school and college, and went on to coach for Pepsi Baseball. His cohort, Craig Bishop draws on 20 years of coaching experience at high schools and colleges. Together, the duo shares the task of teaching students the fundamentals of the game inside batting and pitching cages.
Surrounded by a chain-link fence and divided by safety nets, their astro-turfed cages shelter machines that launch baseballs and softballs straight down the plate. These projectiles can reach speeds up to 85mph, which would be really scary if the baseballs weren't tranquilized beforehand. Sans the machines, pairs can take to the cages to hone their pitching and catching abilities.