The batting cage is such a ubiquitous resource to today’s athletes that it is easy to forget that it has not always existed! Indeed, the boom of baseball in America’s 19th century gave rise to the batting cage’s invention, but some creativity was still required to get the creation to where it stands today. Here is a closer look at the invention of the batting cage:
Wellington Titus, of Hopewell, New Jersey, was the forefather of the batting cage. Known as “Welling” to his friends and family, Titus worked as a mover of houses—an unconventional trade at which, according to legend, he was phenomenally talented! Titus also played as a catcher for his local amateur baseball team, the Hopewell Athletic Club. Like many players, Titus disliked having to chase down pitches that had gone astray and far-off foul balls when practicing hitting. He surely spent as much time chasing the ball as he did at the plate in batting practice!
This necessity was naturally the mother of an invention, as, in 1907, Titus developed what he called a “baseball back stop.” This device, essentially a portable batting cage, quickly found a following, and the demand for it proved so great that Titus immediately applied for a patent. Most telling of all, Titus had signed a contract with the company A.G. Spalding and brothers to mass produce his “baseball back stop” before its patent had even been approved!
This original batting cage had natural appeal to players of baseball, a game that was taking America by storm. It was, at the same time, portable, stationary wherever it was placed, and suitable for use both indoors and outdoors. Furthermore, the batting cage had one security bonus that it still carries today—it was harder for others to steal balls when they were kept inside the cage!
The batting cage has now become the ubiquitous baseball training resource, and perhaps the most indispensable training device in any major sport. Baseball is, above all, a game of pitching and hitting—a talented defensive player is no use if he can’t hit, but a powerful hitter who can’t play defense worth a lick could be a world-class designated hitter! Thus the batting cage is synonymous with baseball training, and is the ultimate all-in-one hitting crash course.
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