Families

Here’s the pitch for your child’s next birthday party

Whatcom Middle School students Eric Thompson, 13, front, and Dexer Crawford, 11, play in the batting cages at Inside Pitch in 2009.
Whatcom Middle School students Eric Thompson, 13, front, and Dexer Crawford, 11, play in the batting cages at Inside Pitch in 2009. The Bellingham Herald file

If your son or daughter is on a youth baseball or softball team and asks to hold a birthday party at Inside Pitch, prepare to see a whole lot of batting practice along with the laughs and fun.

Inside Pitch, Bellingham’s iconic 13-year-old instructional and practice facility for athletes of all ages, offers customized parties with plenty of options.

One of them is buying 100 batting practice tokens for $30 at the party. Tokens normally cost $1 for 12 pitches.

That’s one of the bargains offered by co-manager Devin Farlow. For example, if a dozen youngsters participate in the party, each could get 100 pitches (1,200 in all for the group) in a one-hour time frame, with bats and helmets included.

It’s no wonder that Inside Pitch instructor Gary Hatch, a former Sehome High baseball coach and a Washington Hall of Famer, says a birthday party can be a scene to behold.

“Oh boy, there’s a lot of excitement and enthusiasm at a birthday party here,” Hatch says. “The kids come in fired up and ready to roll. It’s a circus. For elementary school kids, a birthday party is a great time to introduce a kid to the facility.”

Farlow, a 2006 Sehome graduate who played catcher for Hatch, says the two primary options for parties are a $100 rate for three hours, including the party room and other activities for 12 youngsters, or a $150 rate for up to 25 kids.

“What’s important for parents to know is that we also can offer a party facilitator from our staff for an extra $50,” Farlow says.

That can take a lot of pressure off parents. “But we also get some parents who get really creative here after they talk with us about the party structure,” Farlow says.

Inside Pitch has six “turf tunnels” (batting practice lanes) and pitching machines with four settings, from 40 miles per hour for young kids to 70 mph for experienced athletes.

Farlow also points out that kids who aren’t into batting practice or play other sports can still have plenty of fun.

“We can convert the tunnels into a facility-wide turf, which can be used for dodge ball, indoor soccer, flag football or wiffleball,” Farlow says. “Everyone who comes to a party is assured of a lot of fun.”

In the party room, a large screen can be hooked up to YouTube in order to show baseball blooper reels, which are always a big hit.

If you want to show the youngsters some of the most memorable moments in baseball history, you can also serve a scene like Willie Mays’ astounding over-the-shoulder catch and throw at New York’s legendary Polo Grounds in the 1954 World Series. (Some historians consider this the greatest play in baseball history.)

Also in the party room, where the food, drinks and cake is served by parents, kids can play ping pong.

Kids can have a party with a team, a school class or just a group of friends and family.

Since Inside Pitch is open beginning at noon daily and is often a busy instructional and workout facility, parents are encouraged to schedule parties at least a week in advance. Short-notice events are possible, depending on availability of the facility. Most parties are on weekends, but weekday parties are possible.

Inside Pitch also offers a spring break camp, a six-week fall instructional league, private lessons and winter and spring clinics.

Inside Pitch is located at 1750 Moore Street. For information, call (360) 647-1600 or go to Insidepitchbellingham@gmail.com. The web site is www.IPBellingham.com.

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