AP NEWS

Baseball training business opens in Deer Park

March 7, 2019

What does someone do when their child has a gift for baseball but paying for training, batting cages and covered practice facilities during inclement weather becomes like a full-time job? Raymond Lyerla decided to make it a part-time job. He recently opened Facility44, an indoor batting cage and practice facility in Deer Park.

“My son’s always had a gift for baseball,” he said. “He started playing when he was 3.”

Now 8, the boy, Raymond, is on an AAA elite team, and Lyerla, 42, found himself paying dues and fees for batting cages or fields or practices.

“The weather isn’t always great for practicing outside and sometimes the fields are too wet to play,” he said. “So, I thought, ‘Why don’t I just open a facility so he has a place to play all the time?’ So I started looking into it and found this spot in Deer Park that I thought would be perfect.”

The business, 2826 Center St., plans to stage a grand opening soon.

Lyerla said he saw a business opportunity in the passion of many Deer Park families for youth baseball and softball.

Developing the business plan, buying the building, cleaning the property and ordering the necessary equipment was a large undertaking.

Learning how heavy turf is

“The turf alone was a nightmare,” Lyerla said. “I bought it sight-unseen from a company, and they told me it was heavy, but they didn’t tell me how heavy. When it showed up on a flatbed semi-truck, we found out it was 2,500 pounds a roll. And we had eight rolls of it.”

Some quick thinking and a generous neighbor with a backhoe, helped Lyerla and his family avert potential disaster.

“He was able to help us push it off the semi,” Lyerla said. “But then it was on us to get it inside; so I relied on friends and family a lot to help make that happen. They helped us roll these things out until about 1:30 in the morning.”

Startup costs caused some initial sticker shock.

“It took every last penny I had to open this thing. I thought for sure I could do this for $15,000 to $16,000,” he said. “No way.”

The facility has four cages that can all be opened up to create a 2,500-square-foot infield, Lyerla said.

Some examples of service price are that pitching instruction costs $60 an hour, hitting lessons are $50 an hour, $30 for 30 minutes. An hour-long rental for a batting cage is $40.

Lyerla has brought in some former minor league players and pros from both baseball and softball who offer instruction.

Kendrick Perkins, Tim Ramone and Bernie Contreras provide baseball training while Avianna Galvan will instruct softball players at Facility 44.

Lyerla would like to expand his services for young athletes.

“Here in the near future, we’re going to offer a strength and condition program,” he said.

In between practices, games and managing the facility, Lyerla still has a day job, which is in Beaumont.

“I’m an (American Petroleum Institute) inspector out there,” he said. “So, I drive to Beaumont for 10 to 11 hours a day, then drive back here and we’re open until (9 p.m.) Eventually I’d like to just run the facility, but that’s going to be down the road a little.”

“It’s a smaller facility — but that’s what we want. We don’t want to be so big that I don’t know the kids, parents or coaches who are there. That’s what makes us unique. We want to keep it small. We want it to feel like a family.”