Normally the den of the vacationing Tucson Toros, Hi Corbett Field throws open its doors to a rotating cast of minor-league and wood bat-wielding college teams for a summer of sportsmanship under the lights. On Thirsty Thursday, spectators stake out real estate behind home plate for bouts between visiting sluggers before decamping to the concession stands for $1 beers from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. The stadium’s savvy staff augments on-field action with various theme nights throughout the summer, enlivening each game with special events such as the June 16 early Father’s Day celebration, the June 30 Jersey Shore bash, or the July 7 Census Taker Appreciation Night.
A baseball and softball academy can boast about the numbers that define it, such as having 30,000 square feet of indoor space, more than 10 pitching machines, and private and team instruction offered seven days a week?all of which Centerfield Baseball & Softball Academy has. But there's probably no truer testament to the quality of an academy than the success of its alumni. On this count, Centerfield truly shines.
Since opening in 2003, it has minted diamond stars who have been drafted by the Yankees, Marlins, Indians, Braves, and a host of other pro clubs, as well as trained high school and college standouts in both softball and baseball. New recruits follow in the footsteps of these past champions by practicing the academy's teaching methods to become all stars at hitting and fielding.
Funtasticks Family Fun Park entices visitors of all ages with abundant play areas along with racing, riding, and sporty attractions. Guests can test their aim by precisely putting through one of two 18-hole miniature golf courses, sniping opponents in a high-tech laser-tag facility, or hitting softball or baseball homers in a batting cage that launches orbs between 40 and 70 mph from an accusatory foam pointer finger. There's also an indoor laser tag arena that allow up to 30 players per game.
Electric bumper boats come equipped with water guns for squirt-attacks against other seafarers, and go-karts navigate a racetrack's lengthy stretches and curves. The video arcade's plentitude of games rewards players who can later collect prizes, and Kiddie Land sequesters a bouncy castle, rookie go-kart track, and mini roller coaster geared to younger attendees. Funtasticks accommodates organized group outings and birthday parties with an extensive selection of packages.
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.
Like their San Diego Padres affiliates, the Triple-A Tucson Padres awe spectators with fast-flying balls and daring home-plate dives. From the Home Plate Reserved section of Kino Stadium, fans can watch every nuance of the game, from the first pitch to the seventh-inning belly dance. Choose from a schedule packed with great match-ups, including battles with the Tacoma Rainiers and Fresno Grizzlies. Grassy areas outside the stadium beckon picnickers, and Padres zealots can seek out players’ autographs until 15 minutes before the start of the game. Those looking for an extra dash of excitement can lie in wait for a foul ball, blending into the natural surroundings by wearing an included Padres T-shirt.
Three baseball cages and three softball cages housed in the indoor Batters Box facility hurl their best stuff into the strike zone so that baseball players can polish their cuts. Various settings enable all levels to improve, serving slower pitches to younger and less-experienced players and transforming into hecklers so experienced players can master their game faces. Batter’s Box also employs a couple of decorated instructors in Jerry Hairston Sr., a 14-year major leaguer and father to two current pros, and Autumn Champion, a former standout at the University of Arizona and current record holder for the fourth-highest softball batting average in the nation.