PASSING THROUGH – Orca whales swim near the Indian River estuary Thursday night. A pod of more than a half-dozen adult and juvenile orcas spent the late afternoon in Sitka Sound near shore as people along Sawmill Creek Road photographed and video recorded them. NOAA Fisheries recommends staying at least 100 yards away while viewing whales from boats. (Sentinel Photo by James Poulson)

Sitka Baseball Fan Builds Own Batting cage

By GARLAND KENNEDY

Sentinel Staff Writer

With sports put on hold worldwide, Sitka attorney and baseball fan Brandon Marx took matters into his own hands by building a backyard batting cage, with his son, Dylan, age 15.



Dylan Marx swings at a pitch thrown by his dad, Brandon Marx, today outside their home. The two built their own batting cage after the municipal one was shut down  over COVID-19 concerns. (Sentinel Photo by James Poulson)

 

“I grew up and played baseball my whole life and I played baseball in college at Gonzaga,” Brandon Marx told the Sentinel. “It helped me go to school. My coaches meant everything to me. It was a huge influence for me. It is for him (Dylan) too. But when I grew up, we didn’t have batting cages.”

With the Moller Field batting cage closed by the pandemic, Marx father and son took matters into their own hands. Over the past several weeks they built a fence-enclosed practice facility in their own Etolin Street backyard.

Brandon said it was fun to do a project with his son. “He did a lot and helped drill the boards in ... and now it’s all together he really likes it,” he said. The project is functional but not quite done. The Marxes are still working on a rain cover.

“It was a good bonding experience, it was pretty cool,” Dylan Marx said. “At first I was like ‘I don’t want to help,’ but as it started coming together I was like ‘Dang, this is awesome!’”

Dylan plays as a pitcher, middle infield, and catcher when the regular season is active.

“The thrill of the game is just amazing,” he said.

Dylan said that the best part of having a batting cage in his yard is “being able to just walk two steps and hit any time you want to.”

Brandon Marx added Dylan “loves the game and he is a good player. He missed out on his freshman season like all the kids did. And he’s pretty bummed about that.”

Dylan agreed, saying “I had a chance to make varsity, which I really wanted to do, and prove to people that I could do it.”

The new cage allows the younger Marx to practice his batting without breaking social distancing guidelines. Before the public batting cage was closed, Brandon was often there as a mentor in the off-season, helping kids with their hitting techniques.

He also runs the Sitka Baseball Club “to help kids stay in the game and develop over the winter.” Fees from the club go into maintenance for the Moller Field batting cage.

The elder Marx emphasized the importance of off-season baseball drills.

“You really can develop as a player, and I would say Dylan is taking more swings than I did in my whole career.”

The high school freshman has spent time practicing with his father pitching, as well as from a tee.

“If you know how to work on a tee and do it right, you can really improve,” the father said.

Once the city’s COVID-19 restrictions are eased, the Marxes plan to share their batting cage with other players. That said, Brandon was unsure whether it would be a permanent feature of his back yard.

“I enjoy hitting too – it’s fun. But I don’t know if it will be there forever,” he said.

He still holds out hope for a Little League season in Sitka as well, even if chances are reduced from previous years.

“It’s hard to try to see the silver lining in this but that’s what we’re trying to do. With this recent reopening (Alaska’s Phase Two reopening plan) ...  Sitka Little League is going to try to put together a season,” he said.

 

“We may be able to hold scrimmages, because of Dunleavy’s new rules that came out allow for groups of 25 or less. That would allow two teams to play. We’re going to try to do sandlot baseball,” Marx said.

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Alaska COVID-19
At a Glance

(updated 7-31-20)

By Sentinel Staff

The state Department of Health and Social Services has posted the following update on the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Alaska as of 12:50 p.m. Friday.

New cases as of Thursday: 108

Total statewide – 2,990

Total (cumulative) deaths – 23

Active cases in Sitka – 15 (10 resident; 5 non-resident) *

Recovered cases in Sitka – 15 (11 resident; 4 non-resident) *

The state says the cumulative number of cases hospitalized is 133.

To visit the Alaska DHSS Corona Response dashboard website click here.

* These numbers reflect State of Alaska data. Local cases may not immediately appear on DHSS site, or are reported on patient’s town of residence rather than Sitka’s statistics. 

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Welcome to the Sitka Sentinel's web page. In order to make the Sentinel's news more easily available during the COVID-19 pandemic, we have taken down the paywall to access articles on this page. Just click on an article headline to read the story. 

March 23, 2020

NOTICE FROM THE PUBLISHERS

TO READERS AND ADVERTISERS

For the duration of the COVID-19 disaster emergency declared by federal, state and local authorities, the Sentinel is taking additional measures to reduce virus exposure to its employees and contractors as well as to the public, while continuing to publish a daily news report for Sitka.

To the extent possible, Sentinel news and sales staff will be working from home. For the protection of our carriers, home delivery of the newspaper will be stopped effective Tuesday, March 24.

The Sentinel will continue to publish on its website sitkasentinel.com. Access to the website will be free to all users. The Sentinel will also produce a print edition Monday through Friday. It will be available to all readers without charge, at locations throughout town.

Initially, these locations are those where the Sentinel's newspaper vending machines are already in place. The coin mechanisms will be disabled or the doors removed to permit easy access. The Sentinel will work with the stores where the paper is usually sold, to designate a place inside or outside the store where the free edition can be made available.  

Home delivery subscriptions are on hold, and after the end of the disaster emergency, subscriptions will be extended at no charge for the number of days that there was no home delivery.

The Sentinel will make its print edition available to the public as early in the day as possible. with all personnel taking precautions to prevent spread of the virus.

The Sentinel is calling upon its customers to observe the COVID-19 emergency precautions already in place, particularly in maintaining a six-foot social distance from others at newspaper distribution sites.

Following is the statement issued by the Sentinel on March 16, stating the Sentinel's emergency procedures, which remain in effect.

The Sentinel office at 112 Barracks Street is closed to the public. We encourage people to use the phone, email or the U.S. Postal Service as much as possible.There is a slot in the front door of the office for ads, news items and payment checks. Emails may be sent to  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and the phone number is (907) 747-3219.                                                                          

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20 YEARS AGO
July 2000

Clinton Buckmaster shot and wounded a large brown bear Tuesday night when it charged him near his Thimbleberry Bay home in the 2100 block of Sawmill Creek Road. As of press time, the bear was still at large.

50 YEARS AGO
July 1970

The city council agreed at a special meeting Thursday to consider the request of Alaska Native Brotherhood Camp No. 1 for redevelopment planning funds for the Indian Village. Cost has been estimated at $12,000.

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