Editor's Note: This article was altered after publication to correct the address of Baseball Institute.
For Bill and Brian Smith, baseball is a family business.
The father and son, who reside in Chicago Ridge, recently opened Baseball Institute, a regional organization that provides low-cost baseball instruction and mentoring for young athletes, in Mokena.
“Baseball, it’s been a life culture for me,” said Bill. “It’s been just a passion of mine to pass on knowledge.”
Baseball Institute aims to develop skills and provide positive role models for youth ranging from elementary to college age.
The organization offers a variety of learning opportunities, including private lessons with Bill, team workshops with Brian and leadership sessions for new coaches. Programs and classes address areas such as speed and agility, pitching and catching and hitting. Baseball Institute is a mobile organization, and will hold workshops on location.
Bill and Brian have assembled a team of local professional players who serve as instructors and mentors for program participants, including former Cubs pitcher Billy Petrick and former Twins first baseman Erik Lis.
The Smiths are highly experienced in the baseball world as well. Bill played at the University of St. Francis under Gordie Gillespie, and later went on to become a coach there. He has also coached teams at Trinity Christian College and St. Joseph High School.
Brian holds a Master of Sports Management from Northern Illinois University, where he was a pitcher and right fielder for five years.
Like his father, Brian has coached at the University of St. Francis. He has also played professional baseball as a pitcher for the Joliet Slammers.
The Smiths are currently in the process of gaining nonprofits status for Baseball Institute. The organization offers instruction at a reduced rate. Typically, classes that meet twice each week for an hour cost $75 per month. Once the organization becomes a nonprofit, Bill and Brian hope to receive donations and obtain sponsors.
Baseball Institute also offers practice facility rentals. Their location on Springlake Drive is more than 13,000 square feet and includes seven batting cages and a 110-foot by 45-foot infield, among other amenities.
Bill and Brian began developing the idea for a youth baseball instruction organization in July.
“It’s so gratifying,” said Brian.
Baseball Institute is located at 8685 Springlake Drive in Mokena. For more information about programs, contact BaseballInstitute@gmail.com
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