In Marketplace

One of Dingers' founders, Vince Breider. (PHOTO: Chris Milbrath)

In Marketplace

An bird's eye view of a little leaguer at work. (PHOTO: Chris Milbrath)

In Marketplace

A dad showing how it's done. (PHOTO: Chris Milbrath)

In Marketplace

The author, tattooing a 50 mile per hour fastball ... (PHOTO: Chris Milbrath)

In Marketplace

... and missing badly on an 80 mile per hour slider. (PHOTO: Chris Milbrath)

In Marketplace

Manager Ron Reed dials the machine up to 90. (PHOTO: Chris Milbrath)

In Marketplace

Dingers also features a snack bar and lounge. (PHOTO: Chris Milbrath)

In Marketplace

This is what the pitching machine sees. (PHOTO: Chris Milbrath)

Dingers throws conventional batting cages a curve ball

The conventional wisdom behind batting cages hasn't changed in a long time: drop some tokens into the machine at your local miniature golf course or dedicated facility. Take a few hacks at scuffed-up Wiffle Balls, try to impress your girlfriend and maybe, if you're lucky, get a little softball practice in before the big game without throwing out your back.

In Wisconsin, that's how batting cages work -- that is, until Muskego's Dingers opened last May, filling a void for serious hardball and softball players alike.

Dingers isn't an arcade. It isn't loaded with video games or other distractions. Instead, it's a simple building in an industrial park, converted from the family pattern shop business into a facility designed to make baseball players better hitters through state-of-the-art pitching machines never before seen in the Milwaukee area.

Its founders, Vince Breider and Dena Hunt, had the idea while on a family little league vacation to Jupiter, Fla.

"First of all, we just love baseball," says Breider. "My son wanted to visit a batting cage, and as we were leaving, I said to my wife, 'What does this place look like?'"

The answer was that it looked a whole lot like the family business.

Breider and Hunt were already in the process of closing the old shop, so the couple switched gears and began work on Dingers, W189 S8224 Mercury Dr. The end result is a batting cage that's completely different from what their customers were used to.

Dingers' machines can throw up to eight pitches, from fastballs to curve balls to sinkers to sliders. They can simulate right or left-handed pitchers at speeds ranging from 50 to 90 miles per hour. They use real hardballs and softballs, and unlike conventional cages, there aren't any tokens. Batters pay by the minute or buy memberships for discounted hitting.

In short, it's an experience you can't get if you're stepping out of the batter's box every five minutes to plug more tokens.

"If you go to a batting cage, you're there to work on your game," says Breider. "It's the muscle memory, it's the working, it's the constant repetition."

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T15 | Jan. 3, 2008 at 12:22 p.m. (report)

Good find. Good luck. I will be heading out there soon. Are these like the cages MLB players use to train?

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