The history of batting cages tells a story of where we are today. Batting cages have been around since shortly after the inception of baseball in the 19th Century. However, early cages used an ‘open field’ approach. Much like current day golf driving ranges. During this time, only baseball pitching machines existed as softball machines had not yet been developed.
Most cages of this era were developed and designed by the owner with no standard dimensions throughout the industry. In addition, the equipment consisted of basic arm-style machines. And balls were either manually retrieved or the floor was sloped back to the machine area. From there, balls were hand-fed into a hopper. A time-consuming process that required considerable downtime. As for the equipment, it was developed primarily for team use and required substantial maintenance and upkeep for commercial duty.
This is where ABC comes in.
In the mid-1970s, we designed and built the first circular or radius-style cages in Southern California. These cages allowed each batter to have a 90-degree area to hit into. Much like a regular ball diamond. Furthermore, this allowed the machines to be closely grouped together in the ‘pit’ area instead of the side-by-side method that had been previously used. In addition, the radial design allowed for the floor to slope in one central location. Which eliminated the pains of manual ball retrieval.
After that, in 1978, the owners of ABC developed the first automatic retrieval/conveyor system to lift and sort both baseballs and softballs from a sump area in the batting cage. And to feed all machines within the batting range. This development revolutionized the industry. Automatic retrieval and conveyor systems, combined with building plans developed by the manufacturer, made batting cages a much easier venture.
carrying the industry forward.
THE FUTURE OF
The owners of early batting ranges included golf driving range owners, miniature golf owners, and stand-alone batting range operations. Many of these operations closed during the 1960s and early 1970s due to a variety of reasons. However, with the advent of automatic feeding systems, better and more reliable pitching machine equipment and related equipment, supplies designed for commercial use, and more detailed construction blueprints, new operators entered the industry.
Today, the future of batting cages is built squarely on their history. Above all, ABC could not be more proud to help carry the industry forward.