Sitka Baseball Fan Builds Own Batting cage

Category: Local Sports
Created on Tuesday, 12 May 2020 15:36
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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.