The Infield celebrates 8 years of providing community an indoor place to practice, play
PITTSFIELD — When Mike Massery looks around at the surroundings of his business, The Infield, there's more than just his blood, sweat and tears in the air.
His family's history is wrapped up in the building, and it's something that Massery isn't taking for granted as The Infield celebrates eight years in business.
"I literally grew up on this property," Massery said in a recent interview with The Eagle. "To be able to work here and support as best I can, not just my own business but my grandfather and [the past], it's very rewarding.
"I get to be in here every day and it was passed down to me."
The Infield, also the home of the Berkshire Baseball Academy, is located on Lyman Street in Pittsfield, and is inside of White Star Plaza. The White Star name has been in the family's hands for four generations, when Massery's great great grandfather, Louis, started the White Star confectionery company on Columbus Avenue. Since then, the business moved to Lyman Street where it existed until 1990. Massery's The Infield also occupies part of the blueprint from a place known as The Arena, which his father, Phil, opened in 1990 inside of White Star Plaza.
The Arena served as the template for The Infield. While the square footage is smaller, Mike Massery said that both businesses were centered around the same idea — giving people in Pittsfield an indoor space to practice sports.
"When I first opened up, I didn't really think past baseball," Massery, a 2004 Taconic graduate and former American International College baseball player, said. "Kids will come in, they'll have a place to play baseball. Once I opened up, it was like 'Hey, can we play soccer here? Can we play lacrosse here? Can we have a birthday party here?'
"And it was like 'Yeah, of course we can,' and it exploded from there."
The Infield opened in 2011, and Massery celebrated another year of business this fall by putting in new turf for the batting cages and pitching mounds. He said that the decision was born out of a desire to give people who walk in the door the best possible facility.
"It is such a community-based place and we have so many people that come in and support the business, that every year or two I put the money back in and give everyone a cleaner, better, more upgraded facility for them to practice in.
"This is just giving back, putting money back into the business and giving them a more elite facility to practice in."
The bread-and-butter for Massery has always been baseball and softball. When one walks in the door to The Infield, the batting cages are the first thing you will see. But behind the cages is a rink, which Massery uses to house soccer, lacrosse, basketball, and whatever other sports people want to play. Off to the side, there's an event area where birthday parties or other functions can be held.
"Everything's been new within the last two, two-and-a-half years," Massery said. "We have a vision for getting bigger over the years and filling in the need for what everyone wants in the community. I'm constantly getting suggestions saying 'Can we do this in here?' and the answer is of course. That's how the Nerf thing started."
The Nerf thing, is a monthly Nerf "war" competition, where kids can come in and compete against each other. Massery pointed to the Nerf nights as another way he's expanding The Infield's portfolio.
Baseball and softball, though, still rule the roost on Lyman Street. Massery has six instructors, along with himself, teaching the sports to kids in Berkshire County and beyond. Massery pointed to Anton Lazits, the Taconic baseball star who just signed to play Division-I at Columbia University, as an example of the types of kids his team trains.
"I've seen kids go to colleges in their own careers, and that's really what we are working for here," he said. "Me and the other coaches that work around here get to see the kids grow up and be successful. That's our drive ... it's a way for us to work together, take everything we know from our careers and give it to the next generation."
Massery said that his and his staff's coaching style is about being upbeat, and creating an environment where athletes want to come in and work.
"To have a comfortable environment and kids that are eager to learn, eager to get better, and they can have fun with their friends and learn at the same time — that's the environment in our batting cages," Massery said. "That's what people expect when they come in."
What comes next for The Infield? Massery said there were not definitive plans, but he didn't sound like someone ready to slow down.
"I think for our near future is to create more and more programs, what the public is interested in," he said. "Down the road, we are thinking about expanding to an extent, but we haven't crossed that bridge yet.
"It's taken us eight years to get here, but I don't think it will take that long to get to the next step — whatever it might be."
To learn more about The Infield, visit their website at https://www.bba-infield.com/.
Geoff Smith can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, @GSmith_Eagle on Twitter and 413-496-6254.
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