Written by Vinny Messana, email@example.com Friday, 07 June 2013 00:00
Living on Long Island undoubtedly offers a wide array of recreational activities. The seasons provide residents with endless opportunities to enjoy the best that the 118-mile island has to offer.
For baseball fans, here are the top 5 indoor facilities that will offer you the resources and professional help to enhance your abilities and take you to the next level.
Hitter’s Club, Farmingdale
This facility opened its doors in 2009, after being purchased by a group including Randy Leek, Rob Cafiero and Kevin Haverbusch. All three were members of the Long Island Ducks.
Cafiero had a tremendous impact on Long Island baseball dating back to his days at Massapequa High School. His statistics are tough to fathom; .550 career batting average, 24 home runs and 121 runs batted in (RBI). On the mound, he posted a tremendous 32-3 record with a 1.22 ERA. For his performance he was named to three All-County teams, including All-American in his senior year.
During his collegiate career at Villanova, he was one of the best offensive players in program history, finishing his career ranked No. 1 in games played, doubles and RBI. He was drafted in the 32nd round of the 2002 draft by the Philadelphia Phillies. His dreams of reaching the big leagues were not fulfilled but he did, however, play seven years of professional baseball, accumulating 255 hits in that period.
Upon retiring, he opened up Hitter’s Club. The facility is 5,000 sq. feet and features four batting tunnels, which Cafiero says “offers an intimate experience”. Additionally, they offer two intriguing aspects that make this facility even more appealing.
First, the 27-foot high ceiling offers the opportunity for teams to practice without constantly hitting the netting, which most indoor facilities have dangling. This enables the ability to long toss. That is a significant advantage during the winter months when players are looking to prepare for the season.
The facility is also available to rent in its entirety, which is not generally an option at other places, which usually limit one tunnel or batting cage per team.
Hitter’s Club offers camps as well as private birthday packages. They have two separate packages, one titled the “Home Run” and the “Grand Slam”. The latter offers great activities such as relay races, dodgeball, wiffle ball as well as food and beverages.
The address is 127E Carmans Rd., Farmingdale. The facility can be reached at 631- 845-7650, or visit www.hittersclubinc.com
Frozen Ropes, Garden City
It is common for Major League players to reach a comfort zone with a workout or a facility in which they practice. That is precisely the case with four-time All-Star Jose Reyes who regularly works out at this facility “3-5 times per week”, according to the manager, Eric Weiner.
Reyes began frequenting the facility during his playing days with the New York Mets, but has continued to attend even since departing to Miami in 2012 and Toronto, where he currently plays.
Baltimore Orioles star Nick Markakis has also been in attendance and makes occasional appearances.
The Frozen Rope franchise was established in 1989 and has locations all over the country, including as far west as New Mexico and California. It has been featured in publications such as The New York Times, Sports Illustrated, USA Today, The Washington Post and ESPN. The Long Island branch opened in 2009.
“What separates us is the programs we have,” said Weiner. “We have two strength and conditioning programs called ‘turn and burn’ as well as ‘rockfit.’” As the amount of injuries increase in young players, it is of the essence that they become aware how to minimize their risk, which these programs offer.
The state-of-the-art facility features amenities such as batting cages, tunnels for private lessons, a 60x60 open area and pitching mounds for private lessons. It can accommodate private birthday parties as well.
Former Double-A manager Don McCormack is one of the pitching instructors. McCormack also was a coach for the Long Island Ducks where he had a hand in 500 wins. The staff also includes various coaches with college experience.
The building is located at 645 Stewart Ave., Garden City and can be reached via telephone at 516-794-7673, or visit www.frozenropes.com
All-Pro Sports Academy, Bellport
Originally owned by former big-league pitcher Paul Gibson, this Bellport facility possesses as much credibility as any facility on Long Island.
“What sets us apart is that we have five former Major League players on staff,” said owner Scott June.
With a staff featuring former big leaguers including Gibson, his son Glenn, Neal Heaton, John Habyan and Joe Valentine, it is no secret that the facility continuously produces professional athletes. Current minor leaguers Marcus Stroman, Steven Matz, Patrick Cantwell, Nick Tropeano and John Mincone have all trained at the facility.
All-Pro is a tremendous complex that doubled its size from 15,000 to 30,000 square feet in 2008. It features areas designated for private bullpen sessions, hitting instructions, speed/agility courses and a batting cage with five different velocities including softballs. The renovation included a turf infield for teams to rent, as well as Infiniti Performance, which is co-operated by Russ Taveras and Ray Babinsky.
“By Russ having a doctorate in Physical Therapy and Division-I experience, he’s able to provide specific workouts to athletes,” added June. “Let’s say there’s a 12-year-old third basemen, he can provide him with a workout specific to his skills.”
The strength and conditioning area is an attraction in its own right, and is constantly inundated with ambitious baseball players.
The baseball scouting service, Blue Chip Prospects, often holds showcases here for the top high school players in the northeast to perform in front of collegiate scouts.
All-Pro Sports Academy has it all. It is a true baseball haven, and players that really dedicate themselves to the game of baseball often become enamored with the resources that are available to them.
The facility is located at 990 Station Rd., Bellport. The phone number is 631-286-5144, or visit www.allprospectsacademy.com
Play Like a Pro, Hauppauge
When baseball comes to mind, there are a lot of terms synonymous with it. One of the last words, however, would be “clean.” That is one of the main attributes of this facility, according to owner Matt Guiliano.
“I try to keep it like a country club,” said the former professional ballplayer with six years of experience. “Not many places are as clean as this. Not many places are as well-lit either,” he added.
It was certainly interesting hearing a baseball junkie refer to the aesthetics and hygienic aspect of the facility.
Nevertheless, Play Like a Pro lacks nothing in the traditional sense of baseball either. The state-of-the-art training facility opened in 2003 and has over 33,000 square feet, which includes eight indoor hitting tunnels, four batting cages, four pitching mounds, 90x40 fielding area, a pro shop with the latest equipment and a 96x40 soccer field for good measure.
Batting lessons are offered by Pat Lennon, who spent six seasons in the Major Leagues with a bevy of teams. That is a common theme among the instructors.
“Every one of our instructors have professional experience,” said Guiliano. “It’s not high school coaches or Division-III. It’s professional baseball players.” Guiliano began his professional career in 1994 and reached as high as Triple-A in the Philadelphia Phillies organization before leaving the game in 2006.
“Everything I’ve ever done since high school has been based on baseball.” That type of dedication has helped create the reputation that this facility has.
Additionally, the building features a full gym, which offers all types of exercise equipment for athletes to remain in peak form.
The facility is located at 1745 Express Drive, Hauppauge. The phone number is 631-342-9033, or visit www.playlikeaprobaseball.com
Batting 1000, Freeport
Owner Mike Ferriggi purchased this facility in 2007 after fulfilling his childhood goal of giving lessons since he was 10-years-old.
“I said to myself, I want to open up a baseball facility.” That is precisely what he did upon graduating from the University of Maine.
Prior to that, Ferriggi attended Kellenberg High School, where he was a standout player. During his senior year he was named All-Long Island for his outstanding performance as a shortstop. His season culminated with a gold medal while representing Long Island in the Empire State games.