Home Run Stadium has prevailed as one of the largest high-dome batting cages in Arizona for more than two decades, housing eight baseball and six softball cages. For a full hour, sluggers can face off against pitching machines that deliver high-speed cheddar spheres or slow, more subtly fragrant gouda gobs (35–85 mph). Nocturnal guests can wait out the unforgiving glare of the sun and use one of 10 lighted cages, and short shortstops can perfect their swing in the tee-ball area designated for little-league hopefuls. Swing for the scoreboards on Jupiter as fans watch while noshing on concessions from the adobe-colored benches outside of the cages.
Just as an oven needs to pre-heat before baking a tray of jalapeño poppers, baseball players need to raise their internal temperatures to 400 degrees before opening day. Today's Groupon basks in the nine-inning joys of spring training: for $22, you get two baseline tickets (a $40 value) to one of four ballgames at Camelback Ranch in Glendale. You can also get two baseline field box tickets for $30 (a $56 value). Watch the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Chicago White Sox hammer out their 2010 starting lineups as they play under the springtime aroma of fresh-cut grass, hot dogs, and remorse. All available games begin at 1 p.m.
At Casey's SportsWorld, the owners stripped down the ice from an outdoor hockey rink, replaced it with multipurpose, artificial turf, and retained the oval's lights and bleachers to create an outdoor arena that hosts games of soccer, flag football, kickball, and monthly dodge-ball tournaments. Casey's baseball and softball batting cages differ from most in that players can swing for a 200-foot home-run fence while batting from one of three slow-pitch softball cages or seven baseball cages, which sling pitches as fast as 80 miles per hour and feature an arm-style mechanism that emulates human pitchers or talented robots with soup-ladle arms.
Designed to honor a legendary species named the Marsh-wiggle, Casey's SportsWorld's mini-golf course boasts its own brand of folklore. As guests attempt to sink testy putts or manipulate their opponents' scorecard, they can speculate about the origin of the Volkswagen Beetle that is half-embedded into the ground, which denizens of Casey's SportsWorld believe squished the last remaining Marsh-wiggle.
After joining the National League's West Division in 1998, it only took four seasons for the Arizona Diamondbacks to become World Series champions, making them the fastest expansion team to win it all in MLB history. Since then, the D-backs faithful continue to fill the stands of Chase Field, a 48,000-seat retractable-roof ballpark constructed for the team's inaugural season. The widest LED board in Major League Baseball replays crucial saves and high-flying hits in 136'x46' of high-definition glory, and just beyond the fence in right-center field, a swimming pool allows fans armed with foam noodles to whack opponents' home runs back into play. During the fourth inning of every game, kids can interact with D. Baxter the Bobcat in his upper-concourse Den equipped with slides and batting cages.
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.
Inside Arcadia Sports, athletes and fitness enthusiasts find what they need to replenish their stock of equipment and apparel. Baseball and softball gloves, bats, bags, and cleats equip players for practice or games, and the store's outdoor batting cages help keep them in prime shape for homerun hitting or window breaking. Slider shorts protect rumps from abrasion during base-sliding, and youth jersey shirts protect skin from moisture with Bio-Dri technology. Exercise enthusiasts can peruse kettlebells, free weights, and cardio machines for tools to help build muscle at home.