With the help of a team of trainers, owner of Cover All Bases, Chris Gay, gives little-leaguers a leg up on the competition. During his clinics, he spends much of the time working on the sport's most essential motion?the swing?in private hitting lessons. But to help build all-around athletes he and his four trainers lead sessions geared toward pitching, fielding, catching, and the closely related art of hitting softballs. A high school athlete himself who went on to pitch for the University of Texas at Arlington and double-A minor league baseball with the Chicago White Sox for 2 1/2 seasons, his love for the game shines through in his training sessions. "(I) love teaching baseball to kids and helping them make their high school teams," he says.
Staff Size: 2?10 people
Parking: Parking lot
Most popular offering: Private hitting lessons and token cards
Pro Tip: It's more comfortable when you bring your own bat
Good for Kids: Yes
Walk-ins Welcome: Yes
When D-BAT opened in 1998, Cade Griffis was one of only two employees (the other was his brother, Kyle). But Cade knew that he had everything he needed to succeed, starting with a strong training philosophy shaped by his professional and college baseball careers.
Cade's philosophy is simple: every player should follow a unique game plan, tailored to his or her strengths. As straightforward as it sounds, it works wonders when applied consistently. Cade has helped many budding ballplayers grow into power hitters, and somewhere along the way his small facility transformed into a baseball empire with 19 high-tech training locations.
Today, veteran coaches staff each of the climate-controlled facilities. They have a variety of tools at their disposal, including pitching machines that shoot balls at custom speeds of 70+ mph. On flat-screen TVs, parents can watch their kids improve their batting form and master the art of juggling all the bases at once.
No athlete ever got worse by practicing the fundamentals. At Elite Players Club, coaches?many who played at the professional and division 1 college level?help baseball and softball players between the ages of 5 and 18 take their skills to the next level by turning proper form and technique into second nature. The training programs include regularly scheduled camps and clinics that cover virtually every aspect of the sport, including throwing, catching, batting, pitching, and doing the wave. Coaches also dive into the strategic thinking required to help players instinctively make smart plays and put together conditioning workouts to improve players' strength and stamina over time.
Keeping alive the tradition set by the legends of the original American Association—where players such as Mickey Mantle and Willie Mays once toed the batter's box, before the league was absorbed by the professional ranks—the Grand Prairie AirHogs take the diamond to face off against rivals. As part the American Association of Independent Professional Baseball, the club brought sandlot glory to their fans in 2011, when they won the Association's championship. Mirroring the on-field excitement, the new QuikTrip Park turns each outing into a memorable shindig with a party deck, a 17,000-square-foot kids' zone, and a pool adjacent to the outfield. Between innings, fans can fuel up at the stadium’s sports bar or leapfrog over each of the park’s 5,445 seats.
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 the first time in its history, the family-owned and operated The Southern Cross invites the public to roam its 40 acres and participate in outdoor activities ranging from rock climbing to petting barnyard animals. Located minutes away from downtown Dallas, the majestic property greets guests with a panorama of ponds, native crab-apple trees, and century-old oaks. Visitors can scale a 24-foot-tall fiberglass rock-climbing wall, fish with provided equipment at the catch-and-release pond, or set off in a paddleboat in hopes of proving that the world is round and actually made of churnable butter. Children can contemplate eternity in the enclosed playground, while jumping in an inflatable house, or trading spit-filled salutations in a toddlers’ play area. The grounds also boasts a petting zoo, a 4-foot-deep party pool, and water-balloon-launching facilities capable of lobbing aqueous projectiles up to 75 feet or into the eye of a giant Isaac Newton.