LANSING, Mich. — Baseball Hall of Famer and Lansing native John Smoltz is back in town this week promoting what he says is the first company he put his name to, John Smoltz Strikeout Baseball. Stadium.
“I still feel like it’s a part of my life where home and sports started for me,” Smoltz said, sitting on a bench in Ferris Park a few blocks from the Capitol. State.
That’s why Smoltz agreed to work with Strikeout Baseball founder Jeff Lazaros on this stadium.
The stadium is crowdfunded and Lazaros says they are getting closer to their goal. Once they do, the John Smoltz Strikeout ballpark will be open to the public.
How will this work?
“Strikeout Baseball is a concept baseball facility that allows players to pitch, bat and play in a miniature stadium environment,” Lazaros said.
Playing the game does not require 18 players or 4 hours.
“Strikeout Baseball can be played one-on-one, two-on-two. It’s ideally set up for five-on-five,” Lazaros said. “You’ve got a full infield with a pitcher. You’re throwing a rubber ball, it’s not meant to be used with a hardball. You go in and pitch against a wall, there’s no catcher, the ball bounces and where the ball goes in the field is an out, a double or a triple.There are modified rules, but you pitch, hit and line out, which are the key elements of baseball.
It was the concept of getting kids outdoors, active and playing baseball in a fun and relaxed way that Smoltz was excited about.
“I just can’t imagine what it’s like to be a parent today. To have the pressure they have to place their young child in such an over the top system, which ensures they have access to be a big leaguer when the reality is less than 1% have that opportunity,” Smoltz said. “Strikeout Baseball will literally strike a chord with parents who don’t have access to the things we just talked about. Competing in a top league, maybe even affording the baseball aspect because baseball is expensive. It’s going to give kids an opportunity to play baseball, like they’re picking up basketball.”
It’s modified baseball that requires fewer people, less time and less money.
The project is still accepting donations.
“We think we might be able to do a first shovel in the ground in mid-May and then a potential six-week build,” Lazaros said. “I hope to see the facility operational before the end of the summer.”
Once up and running, the duo say they have plans for Strikeout baseball leagues, challenges and neighborhood competitions at the stadium.
After 22 years in the majors, Smoltz said, once the stadium is up and running, Lansing can expect to see more of it.
“I will happily throw a bunch of pitches at the grand opening,” he said. “And I probably won’t be able to use a fork the next day, but that’s okay. It’ll be worth it.”
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