LANSING, Mich. — Baseball hall of famer and Lansing native John Smoltz is putting his name behind a first-of-its-kind baseball stadium at Ferris Park in downtown Lansing.
The arena will be named the John Smoltz Strikeout Baseball Stadium.
"I've really never wanted anything named after me, but if there's going to be something named after me, why not be in Lansing and why not to be around baseball?" Smoltz said.
Strikeout baseball is an old school pick-up way of playing baseball that doesn't require the full 18 players. You can play two-on-two, three-on-three, four-on four. You don't need nine-on-nine.
The stadium will have no outfield and play won't require runners.
"So imagine a mini version of an infield, there's no outfield, there's a wall," explained Smoltz. "You can have a third-baseman, shortstop, a second-base, first-base, pitcher, that's it. That's the max, you can only have five max. But you can literally play games with just a pitcher and a batter, or the left side of the infield, or just the right side of the infield, depending on how you want to play it."
Jeff Lazaros, the creator and owner of Strikeout Baseball USA, said the game is played "with a safety rubber ball with live pitching, hitting and fielding, and all kids can come in and play it. There's no cost to the kids."
The fact that it will be free is important to team developing the stadium, who know from first-hand experience that sports have become a luxury for many.
"Baseball today, unfortunately, is for the rich, because you got to be on a travel team," said John Smoltz Sr., the father of John Smoltz the pitcher. "I mean, you need about $8,000 just to have your kid go play travel baseball. Well, there's a lot of kids that should be playing a game that might be the future John Smoltz that have not got the opportunity."
The Strikeout baseball stadium is a non-profit, and the team is in the middle of fundraising.
Lazaros's hope is to have the stadium up and running by spring 2022.
"I think the more we can get off the couch, outside and playing a sport, I always think that's good," said Smoltz.
If you'd like to donate to help bring strikeout baseball back, you can do so at strikeoutbaseballusa.org.
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