It looks like another part of my childhood is being ripped away from me.
The Carson Batting Cages, a longtime staple within Alpine Village in Torrance, CA, will cease to operate in a matter of days from what I understand. In fact, it could be gone by the time this post goes live.
No, they definitely have not fallen victim to the economy as they are nearly the only batting cage in the area. Rather, they’ve met their untimely demise in the same way most other small businesses do: progress.
According to my brother who speaks with the owner Daryl quite frequently, they are pretty much being forced out of their location despite having a 30-year lease. I also hear that the folks who run Alpine Village are intermittently turning off the power to the batting cages in an effort to make things worse for them.
Way to be professional about things, mein heirs.
Either way there probably is nothing anybody can do about it now, but it’s still sad to see it go. My brother and I went there religiously back in the day and Daryl, Kevin and Roy (Daryl’s sons) practically watched me go from an early teen to adult. Hell, they’ve known us so long they never bothered to make us wear helmets when hitting. While the family still owns a location in Lakewood, I have so many fond memories of Carson Batting Cages.
First, the location. Isn’t it strange? Batting cages located near the end of a German-themed shopping plaza? Things don’t get much stranger than that.
No wait, they do. There used to be what some would consider an amusement park in front of the batting cages. There was a carousel, boats, a roller-coaster. While Das Fun Haus was pretty much rusted and decrepit by the time I started going there, you had to walk through it to get to the cages. And it had monkeys at one time or another according to my brother. The place was razed years decades later.
Either hitting left- or right-handed, I fouled off many a dimpled rubber baseball off various areas of my body, including my mouth, knees and um…let’s just say Anthony truly is a miracle. I must have gone through hundreds of pairs of batting gloves and wooden bats as well. I eventually bought an Easton aluminum bat from Daryl, which I still have.
Then there was the smell of the Farmer Brothers Coffee plant down the street. When they were making that coffee, hoo-wee, it smelled so good. And that’s coming from a person that can’t stand coffee.
But perhaps the best and most hilarious memory I have of the Carson Batting Cages was watching drunken German guys fresh from the Beer Garden take their hacks in the 80 MPH cage. Man, you could literally hear them slosh with each swing–that is, when they managed to stand up long enough. I don’t drink but I know this—Oktober fest at the batting cages was always a spectacle.
But now, to paraphrase Joni Mitchell and perhaps take its meaning out of context, they’re going to pave paradise to put up a parking lot–or make the Beer Garden even bigger.
Thanks for the memories, guys. See you at Lakewood.
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