Extra Innings Baseball/Softball Facility...Where Everyone has the Opportunity to be Successful

Extra Innings Baseball/Softball Facility
...Where Everyone has the Opportunity to be Successful
by Jennifer LB Leese

In 1978, Roger Angell wrote, "Any baseball is beautiful. No other small package comes as close to the ideal design and utility. It is a perfect object for a man's hand. Pick it up and it instantly suggests its purpose; it is meant to be thrown a considerable distance - thrown hard and with precision."
For those who love the game, whether it be playing or watching, this statement rings true.
Baseball is America's favorite past time. Here it has long been regarded as more than just a "major sport", it's as American as apple pie, Cracker Jacks, and hot dogs.
"The earliest known mention of the sport is in a 1744 British publication, A Little Pretty Pocket-Book, by John Newbery. It contains a wood-cut illustration of boys playing "base-ball," showing a set-up roughly similar to the modern game, and a rhymed description of the sport.
"The earliest known American reference to the game was published in a 1791 Pittsfield, Massachusetts, statute that prohibited the playing of baseball within 80 yards of the town's new meeting house. The English novelist Jane Austen made a reference to children playing "base-ball" on a village green in her book Northanger Abbey, which was written between 1798 and 1803 (though not published until 1818)." (Wikipedia)
"In 1845, Alexander Cartwright of New York City led the codification of an early list of rules (the so-called Knickerbocker Rules), from which today's have evolved. While there are reports of Cartwright's club, the New York Knickerbockers, playing games in 1845, the game now recognized as the first in U.S. history to be officially recorded took place on June 19, 1846, in Hoboken, New Jersey, with the "New York Nine" defeating the Knickerbockers, 23-1, in four innings." (Wikipedia)
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"Love is the most important thing in the world, but baseball is pretty good too." ~Greg, age 8
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With baseball as one of the most popular sports in the United States and certainly one of the two most popular along with football, it is a warm-weather sport. So where do area ball players go to keep their limbs limber and their skills sharp...why to Extra Innings in Hagerstown, of course.
Extra Innings, an indoor baseball and softball training center, has been in business since December 2006. Rick Johnson, owner, and his son, Matt Johnson, general manager and instructor, started the business mainly because of Matt. "He [has] played baseball ever since he could walk and when he was playing high school baseball we were always looking for a facility to train to hit in and it's just very limited in the area," said Rick. Rick and Matt discussed it, researched the Extra Innings franchise, and set to work on opening their own business in Hagerstown.
Of course there are outdoor batting cages in Hagerstown, but Extra Innings has it all - all in the comfort of a modern indoor facility.
Extra Innings offers more than a place to workout and practice during the off-season, they also offer their customers informational clinics and one-on-one instruction. "All of our instructors are instilling self-confidence and self-esteem with the player," said Rick.
"Every kid is different, but with positive re-enforcement and re-enforcing the right ideas, and the right way to play the game and what the game is all about, they'll have a lot more success and a lot more fun," said Matt.
As far as what to work on, Matt said, "We can pretty much work on anything as far as hitting, pitching, catching, throwing, and fielding. It can be done in one of two ways - a player comes in to work on something specific or a player comes in looking for instruction. We look at their abilities and we go from there". ... "Building with each lesson."
Extra Innings may have just begun, but the Johnson's are seeing their dreams realized quickly. Membership is high. Off-the-street visitors is high. "It's increasing more and more every week."
Rick informed me that they routinely deal with ages 7 to 17, male and female. "We are a baseball and softball training facility. Fast-pitch and slow-pitch are very big in this area, especially in the Tri-state area. We get a lot of baseball players within that age range, but we also get a lot of softball players, especially the fast-pitch side of it."
Weekends are busier than other days, says Matt, but with schools in, nights are just as busy.
They fully expect that indoor training may not to be fully utilized during the summer months, but Extra Innings already has plans. They are in the process of putting together a few clinics and events outside on the fields. "We'll be very proactive during the summer. We're providing the best instruction you can find anywhere," said Rick.
On March 10 and 17, Extra Innings is offering a 2-hour Baseball Coaching Clinic, geared toward parent/volunteer coaches, which will focus on drills, techniques, general aspects of pitching, hitting, coaching and dealing with the kids. The fee is $25. "It's about the kids learning to play the game the right way," said Matt. "That's the most important thing."
The April Vacation Clinic is set for April 5-7 and April 9 8:30am-12:30pm and will focus on the skills of hitting, fielding, throwing, and base running. "Players are separated into age groups and rotated through various stations in the facility. Each station is designed to teach a different skill taught by our instructors in their area of expertise." Space is limited so register early. Cost is $150 for nonmembers and $125 for members.
All clinics emphasize fundamental improvement for young players and advance training for older players. They are designed to enhance their skills and to gain a competitive advantage.
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(ITALICS AND CENTER)"Baseball isn't a business, it's more like a disease." ~Walter F. O'Malley
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Extra Innings is a state of the art, year round, indoor training facility that has 30-foot high ceilings and over 20,000 square feet. Cleverly placed throughout this large space are several multi-purpose tunnels where individuals or groups can rent out a tunnel, which includes a portable pitcher's mound, protective screen, and more, or they can just clear everything out and throw some ground balls, or perform fielding drills. "You can work on pretty much any aspect of the game [at Extra Innings]," said Matt. With each visit, Matt said that coaches seem to get more creative with what they can do. The facility also offers several automated batting cages, a members training area, a sitting room with TV, game room, picnic area, a fully stocked Pro Shop, and more. The Shop carries brand names such as Under Armour, Louisville, Easton, Mizuno, Rawlings, Worth, Wilson, Franklin and many more at the lowest prices around. The Pro Shop offers a much wider equipment selection than customers would typically find at chain stores...if they don't have it, they'll order it for you.
They even offer birthday parties at the facility for competitive prices.
"Although the three most popular professional team sports in the United States are all ball games - baseball, basketball, and American football - baseball's historical popularity was so great that even today the word "ballgame" in the United States almost always refers to a game of baseball (except in the South, where the word is also used in association with football), and "ballpark" invariably refers to a baseball field." (Wikipedia)
Cal Ripken inspired Matt. He grew up following Ripken's baseball career. "Baseball to me is more than just a game, it is a little bit different than most other sports to the extent that baseball, a majority of the time, as a hitter fails seven out of ten times, so you're successful at the plate three out of ten times, which gives you a 300 batting average. In the major leagues that's almost enough to put you in the Baseball Hall of Fame.
"[Baseball] teaches you how to deal with failure and how to handle yourself off the baseball field."
Contact: Extra Innings, 16038 Business Parkway, Huyett Business Park, Hagerstown, MD 21740. Hours are Monday-Friday, 10am-10pm and Saturday and Sunday, 9am-10pm. Call 301-393-2668 or visit www.extrainnings-hagerstown.com for more information. You can register for clinics, birthday parties, and sign up for or renew your membership right from their website.
All in all, Extra Innings in Hagerstown is a nice family business for families.