A real batting cage comes to Manchester

Mon 10 Mar 2014

The Manchester Outlaws Softball Club, which has three teams at different levels in the Manchester Softball League, has brought a proper commercial pitching machine to the North West and built a batting cage to go around it at the Hough End Social Club ground at Chorlton.

The new facility has been funded by the Manchester Airport Community Trust Fund and the club's own fundraising efforts.

From idea to reality

Outlaws' Treasurer Rolf Herbert takes up the story:

“The Manchester Outlaws decided we wanted some extra cool stuff at our training ground at Hough End, Chorlton.  We had watched the Manchester Softball League build their show pitch and we wanted to build something similar.

“Through various discussions about pitches and dirt and backstop fences, it was clear that a pitching machine and batting cage was the facility that most members were most excited about, so we forged ahead with that plan.

“We initially veered towards a mobile pitching machine, the sort of washing machine motor with wheels that lobs out balls by dropping them between two wheels.  Although a mobile machine has the obvious advantage of being mobile and relatively inexpensive, it also delivers an inconsistent pitch, is tricky sometimes to set up and would be difficult for guests to use, as someone from the club would have to come and drag it out and set it up.

“A fixed commercial machine was being championed by some of the club's Executive and we started to investigate the Iron Mike series from MasterPitch in the USA.  Not surprisingly, no one in the UK or even Europe builds and distributes softball pitching machines, but these guys have been making pitching machines for 50 years and the Iron Mike is one of the best pitching machines you can buy.  It's installed in many hundreds of batting cages throughout America.

“Looking back, I’m amazed – firstly, that we managed to convince everyone else it was a good idea; and secondly, that we actually got the great hulking piece of metal that is an Iron Mike to Manchester from Kansas City, which is over 4000 miles away!

“The pitching machine and all its various accessories cost $4,400 (£2780 at the time), leaving us very little money for everything else we needed, so we had to muck in and do all the work ourselves to get it set up and build the batting cage around it.”

Chasing the dream

Luis Arrevillagas, BSUK's Development Manager for the North West, said: '”I love it when a club has a dream and they do not stop until they achieve it.  It has been a large operation – you wouldn't believe all the planning meetings, emails, phone conversations etc have been necessary to accomplish this. 

“For the outsider, it may seem as simple as building a structure, putting some netting over it and importing a pitching machine.  Believe me, it takes not only planning but courage to fork out your hard-raised cash and send it to another country to sit and wait for the delivery of what you saw in the picture.  And add to that learning all the aspects of building foundations for a really heavy machine and building a structure that will withstand the weather in Manchester! 

“You need to take your hat off to the Outlaws.  The whole softball – and possibly baseball community –  is benefiting from their hard work in Manchester.  They continue to have strong links with the Police Social Club and I can't wait to see what the whole area is going to look in a few years' time.”

How to book

Time at the batting cage can be booked through the Manchester Outlaws website:  http://manchesteroutlaws.co.uk/index.php/batting-cage-parent/batting-cage/.

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Mike Raftery 20:04

Is the batting cage available in the off season ?


Mike 20:54

Is the batting cage available all year round ?


paul 13:48

Is the batting cage available in winter?


Samira Kearle 13:15


Please can you email me a number I can contact you guys on so I can enquire information in regards to the pitching machine.

Many thanks


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