Every summer, the sprawling fields and winding horse trails of the peaceful Walnut Grove Park undergo a transformation. The clinks and clanks of a towering stage being built permeate the soundscape, taking prominence over the usual noises of bird chirps and rustling leaves. The aromas of tender barbeque meats fill the air, and droves of music-lovers, families, and groups of friends flock to the park with their lawn chairs and beach blankets in tow. Once the crowd has arrived, top local musicians take to the stage to perform lively rock and blues songs as servers top off plastic cups with ice-cold brews. The normally serene park is now the bustling scene of the weekend-long City of San Marcos Rock, Blues & BBQ Festival, which?like the Lincoln statue?s brief sentience and subsequent leg stretch?only happens once a year.
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.
Since 1993, JP Longball has reverberated with the cracks and pings of bats. Located near the University of San Diego, the indoor batting center features five batting cages?including one with a dirt batting surface, three that throw baseball and fast pitch softball, and one that throws baseball and slow pitch softball. Arm-action pitching machines test baseball and softball players with different speeds, and a curveball machine bends balls over the plate without relying on whispered incantations from Randy Johnson. Not all of JP Longball's staff is mechanized, however. The facility also retains an all-star lineup of accomplished coaches, who share their wisdom with ballplayers during personalized hitting, pitching, and fielding lessons.
With 8,800 square feet of dedicated baseball- and softball-practice space, Brickyard Cages gives ballplayers room to improve bat speed and train their eyes. Sluggers choose from six batting cage tunnels outfitted with Iron Mike pitching machines, which can be adjusted by speed and any pitch type that doesn't require human saliva. A staff of experienced players and instructors presides over every crack of the bat and slap of the catcher's mitt, offering year-round lessons to groups and individuals.
This 8,000-square-foot facility houses five indoor batting areas to train baseball beaters on customized pitching machines capable of launching fast balls and curve balls at speeds of 25 to 90 mph, faster than the speed of black light moving toward a felt Don Mattingly. Each cage provides pop-fly pilots with helmets, bats, and baseballs. Hardball Sports Academy also includes two cages equipped for live pitching with L-screens that protect the delicate exoskeletons of warm-blooded lobbers.