Around here, baseball is not just a pastime. It’s a way of life. Now that the Major League season is underway, the tiny slugger in your bunch is going to beg for a piece of the action.
Up their game at local baseball classes and batting cages, where sports-stars-in-the-making can build skills, have fun and learn the value of a good Cubs-Sox debate. This is Chicago, after all.
For first-time batters:
Two years old isn’t too young to race across the bases. Lil Sluggers coaches budding Babe Ruths — even if they’re barely out of diapers. At classes across the city, kids ages 2-7 learn the basics of how to hit, run and score under the tutelage of coaches that make everyone feel like a winner.
Locations across the city and suburbs.
For serious sluggers:
Do It Right Baseball
Once he has a grip on the game, this training powerhouse helps him hit it out of the park. Private and group lessons are held year-round, and instructors give personalized tips on hitting and pitching mechanics, defense strategy and position-specific training. Coaches can also travel to your turf (schools and playgrounds) for master classes.
4130 N. Rockwell St.
For future pros:
Chicago Bulls/Sox Academy
Not only are we lucky enough to have two Major League baseball teams in town, but there’s a spot that helps young players train just like the pros. At Chicago Bulls/Sox Academy, kids get access to the same equipment, training procedures and instructor expertise as the Chicago White Sox. Along with teaching the fundamentals of the game, there’s a focus on teamwork and confidence building — a total score in our book.
BASH Sports Academy
Go here for the expert-led classes in pitching, hitting and defense (the head instructors teach baseball full-time). Or do as any home run-loving fan would do, and take your eager hitter straight to the batting cages. Wind up and let it rip. Cages can be booked for hour-long slots ($50). Reserve by calling ahead; they fill up quickly.
2617 W. Fletcher St.
For stadium spirit:
At Wrigley Field, the Cubs give it their all. Across the street at Sluggers, it’s like training camp for young hitters. The bar and grill gets rowdy during games and on weekends, but on other days before dinnertime, kids of all ages are welcome to work on their swing at the indoor batting cage. When your Pete Rose-in-training gets tired of swinging, he can move on to trampoline, basketball, air hockey, and electronic basketball and skiing games.
3450 N. Clark St.
Okay, tell us in the Comments section below: Are you rooting for the Cubs or Sox?
— Danielle Braff
Photos: Courtesy of Lil Sluggers, Do It Right Baseball, Chicago Bulls/Sox Academy, BASH Sports Academy