Dreading the winter blues?
If so, Merl Riehl and Sofija Reston suggest you keep a bit of summer in your life, even when the temperatures start to drop and snow is on the ground.
Baseball, the traditional game of summer, can be enjoyed year-round at Belleville Pitch and Hit. The indoor baseball training and entertainment facility is located at 393 Sidney Street at Hilden Square beside Master Bedroom.
The spacious facility, co-owned by Riehl and Reston, offers indoor batting cages and tee stands. They’re capable of hosting teams, birthday parties, couples nights, school groups, corporate team-building events, skills training sessions and children and adults who just want to smack a baseball around for an hour or so.
"We’re the only facility of this kind in the area,” said Riehl. “We’ve had more than 3,000 people come through. It’s fun. It’s inexpensive. It’s safe. The worst injury we’ve had is a blister.”
Riehl says Belleville Pitch and Run has attracted batters as young as four and as old as 81.
"We offer something for everybody, all groups,” said Riehl. “You can come here and just hit balls recreationally or for training too. We have teams book times and dads and moms and their kids just dropping by to do some family bonding.
"It can be like bowling night too, where you just take turns hitting balls for an hour and then grab a pizza or something on the way home.
"Last weekend, we had a visiting hockey team come in to hit a few balls just to kill some time between tournament games.”
BPH also caters to various community groups and the physically challenged, said Riehl.
"There’s one group that brings their people here just because they’re always looking for something different to do for exercise and to stay active,” he said. “They love it.”
A former member of the Canadian military, Riehl said baseball became an important part of his transition back to civilian life. His children wanted to play, it got him into coaching and now he’s a diamond devotee.
While offering an entertainment and training facility with reasonable prices, Riehl said BPH is also “trying to grow the game” in Belleville and the Quinte region.
"We’re doing whatever we can to help baseball here,” he said. “In some parts of Ontario, it’s always been kind of tied to the Toronto Blue Jays. When they’re done, it seems to die in certain communities. But, it doesn’t have to.”
Pitching machines at BPH can be adjusted to deliver balls at speeds varying anywhere from 40-85 miles per hour.
"We can set them up for all levels, from beginners to experienced players,” said Riehl. “We can change them for whatever batters want or need.”
Air tees allow children who’ve never swung a bat before, to work off a stationary platform with the ball actually floating in the air.
"You can see the excitement when they start hitting them,” said Riehl. “It’s amazing.”
Once children are comfortable off the air tees, they can make the transtion to the batting cages, said Riehl.
While the BPH facilities offer something for almost everybody, says Riehl, his philsophy on playing ball remains relatively simple.
"When we were kids, we grew up outside in the summer hitting and catching and chasing balls,” he said. “We want to get kids back to playing ball and having fun away from the video games for a while. We want to provide another opporunity for family fun.”
Belleville Pitch and Hit is open weekdays from 12-8 p.m.; and from 10-8 p.m. on weekends. Visit the BPH website at: www.bellevillepitchandhit.com or call 613-779-7138.