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.
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.
The thwack of bats hitting balls squarely on their stitched faces echoes throughout The Hitting Zone, a 16,000-square-foot indoor baseball and softball training center. There, skilled trainers draw on their own experiences in the field to help batters achieve that satisfying sound during private and group lessons. Coach Rick DeHart shares what he learned while playing for the Montreal Expos and the Kansas City Royals, and Chris Wilmot’s lessons are shaped by his time as a first baseman for the Cougars. Other trainers share stories of college ball and coaching high-school students while they demonstrate pro pitching and hitting techniques in six turfed training tunnels.
Budding swingers can also apply their newly learned skills in five baseball and fast-pitch-softball cages equipped with ATEC automatic pitching machines that aspire to play for the Yankees one day. A 12-inch slow-pitch-arc softball cage also awaits batters, who can fuel their efforts with refreshments from nearby vending machines. In addition, The Hitting Zone also welcomes birthday celebrants inside a 24'x27' party room, where they can eat cake in between whacking balls and listing all of the Great Bambino’s nicknames in alphabetical order.