Zuleta’s Indoor Batting Cages are owned and operated by Julio Zuleta, a veteran ballplayer who boasts a 17-year career in not only the Minor and Major Leagues, but also in Nippon Professional Baseball and the World Baseball Classic. Seventy feet of astroturf separate future sluggers from their robotic pitchers in four cages delineated by black netting that keeps patrons safe from stray balls and the occasional giant monster mosquito. Bring your own bat (wooden, aluminum, or pygmy round-eared) or rent an aluminum bat for $1. Practice like the pros on the same type of machines most MLB players use to warm-up during spring training. Controllable pitching speeds from 25 to 85 mph are available to suit any ability level and can take both baseballs and softballs.
The stitching that unites the iconic "N" and "Y" on each Yankees cap also threads together a legacy that stretches back more than a century. Cemented by 27 World Series titles, 40 American League pennants, and a total of 43 alumni in the Baseball Hall of Fame, that legacy has been built on winning, resulting in, among other legends, a batting lineup forever nicknamed "Murderer's Row" and a regular Joe transformed into a joltin' hero.
From 1923 to 2008, the team called the original Yankee Stadium—the "House That Ruth Built"—home, making it a daunting task indeed to move 85 years of tradition into a new park without erasing the tracks of history or disturbing the scoreboard's mysterious hieroglyphics. Yet today, the Bronx breezes waft the scent of polyester pinstripes up to the 50,287 blue seats peppering a new facility—christened, appropriately enough, with a world championship in 2009. Even with its up-to-date amenities, including a mammoth 101-foot-wide LED screen towering above center field, the current Yankee Stadium stands as a reminder of the past—especially in Monument Park, where fans can soak up the club's storied saga up until 45 minutes prior to each game.
Potential major-league stars launch heaven-bound baseballs toward the outfield and paint home plate with pitches all summer long for the Bradenton Marauders, the Class-A-Advanced affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates. The team hopes to sail past competition, buoyed by the skills of fastball-slinger Kyle McPherson and slugger Jarek Cunningham, who through June 5 has 11 home runs, one for each of Abraham Lincoln's toes. Hungry fans can barter Buc's Bucks for ballpark eats between innings and treat stomachs to a classic grandstand dinner of hot dogs and fries.
Missing Links Driving Range beckons to serious athletes and fun-seeking families alike with three batting cages, a 37-hitting-stall driving range, an 18-hole miniature-golf course, and a golf school helmed by two PGA-certified pros. Pin-hunters can assume their stance in virtually any conditions at the driving range, as 20 of the hitting stalls are covered and the entire complex is lighted to cater to late-night practitioners or 9 irons with a knack for astronomy. Putt-putt posses can tap like trumpet players at dawn through a mini-golf course that features a lagoon, lighthouse, waterfalls, and other tropical-themed obstacles, or hone their game more meticulously with lessons from the expert instructors at Smith 'n Barber Golf School. Line drives, grounders, and fly balls carom off of whirring bats or oversize hot dogs inside Missing Links' three batting cages, where automated pitchers serve up both fast-flung baseballs and high-arching, slow-pitch softballs. After a long day of swatting spheres, guests can cool off with 24 flavors of soft serve and other subzero savories served at the onsite ice-cream parlor.
Total Baseball Sports Academy curates a collective of experienced baseball and fast-pitch-softball coaches, along with manicured practice spaces. Teachers who were once involved with such organizations as the St. Louis Cardinals and Washington Nationals lend their knowledge to young players during summer camps, private lessons, and correspondence courses taught entirely through catcher hand signals. Teams can kick up the freshly raked dirt on rented practice fields or rattle the wire frame on batting cages.