Even the most ardent Phillies fans weren’t likely thinking about baseball this week as the first snowflakes of the season fell.
But it’s different for those familiar with Extra Innings.
“We’re starting our busy season,” said Mike Gospodarek, owner of the baseball and softball training facility on Haunted Lane, off of Bristol Pike.
That’s because those wanting to hone their skills can’t do so outside once the cold weather starts.
There’s plenty of room at Extra Innings, which is a 15,000-square-foot facility with 10 batting and pitching tunnels, batting stations, video machines, a pro shop and a party area. As many as ten instructors are available for private lessons if that’s what is needed. A half-hour costs $39 but membership reduces the price. Teams, with their own coaches, are also big customers, Gospodarek said.
“Coach Mike” has been training teams and hitters in the area for 15 years. His 14U team finished 7th in the country in World Series Softball in 2007.
The 43 year old from northeast Philly says the key to success at America’s pastime is putting the hours in and gaining confidence.
“The main thing I see is kids who come in for one lesson and the parents think that will do. If you’re learning how to play a musical instrument, you’d take them for lessons every week,” Gospodarek said.
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“All of the kids we see have eye and hand coordination. It’s all about confidence. The one thing we build is confidence. It changes their entire outlook on the game.”
Gospodarek retired from the construction business and opened the local Extra Innings franchise in the fall of 2008.
“I was coaching football and softball and I was always looking for indoor facilities,” he said.
The investment was nothing to sneeze at.
“It was an old warehouse and we spent $40,000 to $50,000 on it plus the turf and machines,” said Gospodarek.
But the gratification is palpable.
“It’s really fun working with kids and then seeing them go to colleges and play there,” Gospodarek said.