Unlike an outdoor field, The Perfect Swing's more than 60,000 sq. ft. facility isn't ever affected by bad weather or movie crews shooting yet another inspiring comeback story. The sound of cracking bats and thudding balls fills the training space rain or shine year-round. Baseball and softball players face off against seven automatic pitching machines, which hurl balls at speeds between 35–70 miles per hour, while pitchers work their arms in 17 practice tunnels.
The Perfect Swing also offers four indoor turf fields for year-round baseball, softball, and soccer. Shoppers who are looking to stock up on softball and baseball equipment can visit the on-site store.
Athletes aren't left to swing and throw blindly, though. The Perfect Swing boasts a staff of more than 25 baseball and softball instructors, including many current and former professional players. During private and group instruction, these experts help students hone fundamental skills in areas such as hitting, pitching, catching, fielding, and agility. Instructors also lead outdoor baseball camps during the summer months.
During the Gary SouthShore RailCats' inaugural season in 2002, the players spent an estimated 200 hours on buses—traveling approximately 12,000 miles without their own ballpark to call home. Indeed, the diamond at U.S. Steel Yard was still under construction, forcing the team to play its entire first season on the road. But while the trip could have been a rocky way for an organization to start out, it instead forecasted a wild ride ahead in which the RailCats never stopped moving. After just four years, the RailCats captured their first Northern League title, marking the first of five straight appearances in the championship series—a Northern League record.
Despite that first year away from home, the RailCats seem to have settled in well at U.S. Steel Yard. Within the park, views of the South Shore commuter train remind fans of the team's origins, and a 55-foot scoreboard towers over left-centerfield in much the same way early pitchers once towered over batters from atop a stack of milk crates.
Originally founded as the Seattle Pilots in 1969, the Milwaukee Brewers have brought Major League Baseball to Wisconsin since 1970. The team played its first 30 seasons at Milwaukee County Stadium; Miller Park opened its gates in 2001, featuring field dimensions mapped out by legendary Brewer Robin Yount. Today, up to 41,900 fans pack into Miller Park to cheer on their home team as well as The Famous Racing Sausages and Bernie the Brewer, who soars down his iconic slide to celebrate home runs or cheer himself up after burning popcorn inside his elevated left-field clubhouse.
Chicagoland Baseball Academy's 5,000-square-foot training facility reverberates with the clink of balls ricocheting off aluminum bats, the pop of pitches hurtling into practice nets, and the cries of “Got it!” from fielders communicating a pop fly. Owned by longtime baseball trainer and high-school head coach Bill Rosencrans, the Academy helps players improve their games through lessons that isolate essential skills such as power throwing and executing double plays. To ensure each athlete plays to his or her full potential, classes also focus on regular core training, using ropes, medicine balls, and plyometrics to keep bodies in top shape.