Tucked away in the back corner of an office complex near Cortaro Road and Interstate 10 sits a place where baseball and softball players go to become better players.
That place is the Batters Box, 7620 N. Hartman Lane.
Batters Box, which is owned and operated by Thoby Vieux, was created to give his son and his fellow baseball players a location where they could learn techniques and skills to better their game. But, Vieux doesn’t have a background in baseball.
“I worked in corporate America for awhile and my son is coming up loving baseball but I never played the game,” Vieux said. “I felt like there was a void on the northwest side for a facility like this to where the kids can pretty much have their place to come and hit.”
He “took the plunge” in 2009 to give his then eighth-grade son, Kelton, the tools and opportunities he needed in order to become a better player. Kelton is now a starting pitcher for Marana High School.
Vieux has expanded into having a facility where players from Marana, Mountain View, Ironwood, Canyon Del Oro high schools, and many leagues from the Northwest, come to learn.
Some didn’t think the business would last a year, while some thought it wouldn’t last threemonths.
Now, on a wall in the Batters Box rests 200 or more hats, all from various clubs, teams and organizations. Each one is signed by the player who gave it to Vieux.
“I wanted to do something to where when a kid came in, he felt like this was is home,” he said. “So everybody who signed up, and became a member, I wanted their hats signed so I could hang it up on the wall.
“I am hoping in seven or eight years, that one of them will be worth $150,000,” he jokingly added.
At the Batters Box, a team of instructors works with groups and one-on-one with the players.
“Anybody can come in here and jump on a machine,” he said, “But what we want them to do is to come in here and do some tee work, do some live-arm, do some soft toss, then jump on a machine. That is going to make you a complete hitter.”
Zach Koprowski, who started coming to the Batters Box when he was going to Mountain View High School, now plays for San Diego Christian College. There he plays first base and pitcher.
“The opportunities that you have here are great,” Koprowski said. “Thoby is always willing to work with you, and help you out, and is always willing to let you hit. I don’t think I would be playing college ball if I wasn’t able to come here. It really helped me out in high school.”
For some of the players who use the Batters Box, like 14-year-old Nick Estrella, they have noticed a drastic improvement in their game since coming and practicing regularly.
“I was struggling a lot and then I started hitting the ball harder after I came here,” Estrella said.
One particular exercise that he recalls that made his hitting better is when they had him repeatedly throw his hips as hard as he could as he tried to hit the ball. He did this until his hips were sore. This helped engrain the idea of swinging with his hips while hitting the ball.
For others, like 17-year-old Tanner Thorsrud, who plays with Kelton at Marana High School, said the facility helped him with his self-assurance.
“I gained a lot more confidence and felt a lot more comfortable when I was hitting,” Thorsrud said. “It helped all around.”
Numerous packages for individuals and groups are available for use while the Batters Box is open. For specific times and prices, go to www.battersboxaz.com or call 579-6691.