By Baylee Pulliam
The Herald Bulletin
ANDERSON, Ind. —
Baseball is big business in Anderson, a town that’s produced the likes of Peaches O’Neil, Bob Larmore, Carl Erskine and at least five other major leaguers.
“A lot of famous ball players have come from this town,” said Andy Coryell, who co-owns Dingers Batting Cages with her husband, Mick. “If they can do it, why not this kid, you know? Why not my kid?”
Her ‘kid,’ 14-year-old Colin, is well on his way — he’s number 21 on the Frankton Jr./Sr. High School baseball team. And when he’s not at school, games or practice, he’s honing his skills in one of Dingers batting cages.
Dingers is great, he said — especially since his parents own it. “I’m here all the time.”
The Coryells opened Dingers April 19, at 920 S. Rangeline Rd. just behind Throwback Athletics. The facility houses two tee-ball stations, a pitching tunnel and three indoor, automated batting cages — one for softball and two for baseball. They plan to add a fourth cage soon.
The cages are open year-round, seven days a week, and rent for 15-, 30- and 60-minute stints.
“We thought there was a need for a place like this,” Mick said. “There weren’t many places for them (athletes) to practice if it was cold or wet.”
That’s something Tim Westerfield knows first-hand.
He coaches nine- and 10-year-olds on the Closet Concepts minor league team in Pendleton, and the recent bout of unseasonably cold temperatures and torrential rain have canceled many of their outdoor practices.
“A lot of baseball is basic hard work,” he said. “That’s sometimes tough to do with the weather we have in Central Indiana” — bad news, for the ten-or-so teams in Pendleton’s minor league, plus the major, rookie, tee-ball and coach-pitch teams.
And it doesn’t help that ball season starts right out of winter, Andy said, “Here, they can stay indoors.”
To cover all their bases, Dingers has an unofficial partnership with neighboring Throwback Athletics, an athletic training facility owned by Mick’s buddies, Eli Marshall and Justin Rummell.
Marshall said he and Rummell had an open building, and a batting cage business seemed the perfect extension of Throwback’s intense, sport-specific training services for local youth, amateur and professional athletes.
“What they (Dingers) do with their automated pitching machines really benefits us,” he said, since the two businesses often refer clients back and forth.
Plus, it’s good for athletes, because they can train at Throwbacks then go next door to Dingers and practice until they have those skills down.
That holistic approach wasn’t really available before, said Jim Allbaugh, who coaches 13- and 15-year-olds on The Athletics, a team out of Shenandoah-Middletown.
“You can’t just do one thing,” he said. “To get good (on the field), you have to do both.”
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