BUHS Baseball Coach Tim Reid urges you to make a trip to the Bullpen
Tim Reid, Bishop Union High School class of ‘81, current BUHS varsity baseball coach and a former pitcher in the Chicago Cubs’ minor league system, also owns and operates the Bronco Bullpen Batting Cages on Willow Street.
The cages opened for business last July, and feature two pitching machines, one for softball and one for baseball. (Phone: 760.937.0208)
The setting on each machine can be adjusted to throw anywhere from 45 to 95 miles per hour.
But here’s the catch. You don’t have to set the machine at 95 mph to make it feel like a 95 mph pitch. Why? Because the distance between the machine’s arm and the hitting mat is 45’, as opposed to the standard major league distance of 60’6” between pitching rubber and home plate.
According to www.efastball. com, a pitch thrown at 70 mph from 45’ has the pitch speed equivalence of a 95 mph pitch from 60’6”.
In other words, it would require roughly the same reaction time to hit either pitch.
Reid kicked around the idea of building batting cages for years, but didn’t commit to the project until 18 months ago, when he was laid off from his dairy sales job after 21 years.
He then cashed in his 401K and invested about $60,000 in the pitching machines and tenant improvements to the warehouse space (It was necessary to raise the floor slightly so the balls would roll back to the machine after they’d been delivered and hit/missed).
Though business has been pretty good in the spring when high school baseball and softball teams are playing and little league season gets underway, Reid said he has had trouble sustaining the business in other months and is contemplating shutting his doors.
“I don’t need to get rich, but I gotta pay my bills. The community needs to realize it [the cages] needs support or it’ll go away.”
Given that it’s precisely the type of healthy, family-friendly activity that community members say we need more of, this shouldn’t be too hard a sell.
Especially when it costs a mere dollar for every 20 balls.
And there are plenty of success stories.
Bishop resident Chris Conn said he took his son to the cages about once or twice a month during the winter, just for something to do and to keep the rust off.
But when little league opened this spring, other parents noticed a difference.
“People came up to me and remarked about well he was hitting … it seemed to make a huge improvement in his overall game.”
“The Bronco Bullpen is a great resource,” Conn added. “It’s also got air hockey, foosball … it’s just a fun place for kids to go and hang out. To even have a batting cage in the Eastern Sierra is priceless. It’s a place to keep kids active and out of trouble … and Tim’s a longtime local doing right by his community. I just like to support a guy like that.”
Another success story involves an overweight boy whose family got him a month’s membership. During that month, the boy came in to hit 200 balls every afternoon and dropped 20 pounds.
Still another family came in because their son was afraid of balls that were pitched to him. Reid worked with the boy for an hour (at no charge) to make him more comfortable facing live pitching.
A lot of Reid’s desire to help others stems from his own abbreviated playing career. He readily admits that he drank himself out of baseball, even though the Cubs tried to get him to seek alcohol counseling on several occasions.
The Sheet: You played in the ‘80s during the era where they made the film Bull Durham. How realistic was that depiction of life in the minor leagues?
Reid: That’s exactly the way it was.
Reid grew up locally. His father was a miner at Union Carbide. He attended the Round Valley school K through 8, and played football, basketball and baseball at BUHS. As far as he knows, he’s the only local to have played pro ball, though he says former major leaguer Matt Williams grew up in Big Pine before moving to Carson City in middle school.
Reid says he also offers free pitching lessons with memberships ($400/year for families, $300/year for individuals, $40/month for individuals), which offer unlimited batting.
He also does birthday parties. You can rent both cages for $40 per hour.
The Sheet: What’s the main thing you try to impart to young pitchers?
Reid: Just throw strikes … and I teach them proper pitching mechanics.
The Sheet: It’s kind of ironic that a pitcher opened up a hitting business. Were you one of those rare pitchers who could hit?
Reid (smiling): I was 3 for 8 in my professional career. I always swung at the first pitch, and I always figured the first pitch would be a fastball.
So what kind of coach is Reid? The Bishop Broncos are currently 12-2 overall, 5-0 in league and ranked 4th in CIF Division VI. They play Kern Valley on Friday, May 6, at home at 3:15 p.m.