Humble bullpen beginnings

Like all unlikely sports stories, my baseball comeback is starting with humble beginnings. I work in a small, inner-city school with a gym that is rarely available. However, there is a large vacant room in the basement that houses some weights. I have transformed this space into something that resembles a found objects art installation at the Walker Arts Center. It is where I throw baseballs 3-4 days a week. Let me walk you through my bullpen.

Here’s the view from where I throw.

View from throwing location

View from throwing pad

I’d like to explain the setting a bit. First, you see my bucket of baseballs sitting on a large elementary school rug. The floor in the room is slippery, so this helps me keep my footing. In the distance is my target (more on that below). To the left of the target are dozens of abandoned building plans; and on the right are weight machines that I do not (yet) use.

Here is a close-up of my current target:

Close up of target

A close up of my current target

My target is comprised of objects that were all abandoned years ago in this cavernous wasteland. The blue backdrop are thin dusty exercise pads–they cushion the blow of the ball. I haven’t yet marked a strike zone, and so currently try to consistently hit the middle of the horizontal pad. If the ball hits somewhere near the zone, it bounces into the wooden wall-mount shelf pictured in the foreground. It stands about 16 inches high, so most balls bounce back against it. I draped two black rubber mats over this shelf to dampen the noise of the ball striking it. Finally, the eight tires act as a sort of bank to corral the baseballs into the center area.

The system works out okay. Probably 90% of pitches end up corralled there inside the tires. The rest bounce all over the room.

I’m flirting with the idea of actually purchasing a pitching net with a built in strike zone. Could anyone do some research to suggest a net for me? Let me know in the comments below.


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