What is the primary purpose of your business? We are here to train and coach youth in baseball and softball. We rent cage space to area baseball and softball teams and offer private training as well.
What is your (or the owners) business background? I played baseball at Coosa, went to Jacksonville State, played four years there and was an All-American. I was drafted by the San Francisco Giants in 1984 and played in the San Francisco and Kansas City Royal systems. I advanced as far as AA baseball I served as a hitting coach in the minor leagues with the Chicago White Sox for two years in 1991 and 1992. When I came back to Rome, I started the original Strike Zone in 1994 and have been doing it ever since.
Why did you start (or start in) this particular business? I love baseball. Baseball has always been my passion. I got into coaching and I really enjoy teaching the kids and trying to make them better.
What makes your business unique? The Pro Batter pitching machine we have actually has a pitcher on a video screen that throws the ball. It throws all kinds of different pitches at different levels from 9-and10-year olds all the way up to pros. It is a good way for the kids to come in here and simulate a live pitcher throwing the ball. The instructors work with young people on hitting, pitching, catching and sport specific conditioning and training.
What do you enjoy most about your chosen profession? Seeing the kids get better. Watching them take what you are teaching them to the games and you see them week to week or year to year make improvements. When they improve it helps their confidence. It makes them feel better.
What has been the biggest or most interesting challenge to overcome as a small business owner? Making the rent (laughing). I guess moving from The Cage to a new location. Getting the word out that we’ve moved. We’re still in business, have a new name and location but this place is bigger and better than The Cage was. The new facility encompasses some 9,000 square feet and has four hitting tunnels, a pitching room and training room.
Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers? We’ve got a lot of instructors here. Myself, Cecil Fielder (former Detroit Tiger all-star), Eric Robinson, who is a pro scout for the Washington National, is here, and Brian Bridges, a scout for the Atlanta Braves. We’ve got a lot more instruction here than just me. Also, Double Day fields several baseball travel teams.
Owner: Charles Culberson, David Kay and Cecil Fielder
Location: 113 Armstrong Street, off John Davenports Drive
How long have you owned it? Since 1994 (under various business names)
Previous location: W. Third Street
Hours: Monday-Friday, 3 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Sunday, 2 p.m. to 8 p.m.