What began as a relatively modest project that would provide an indoor batting facility for Fairview baseball players to use during the winter has blossomed into a much more ambitious project.
For years, former Fairview baseball player and Major League pitcher Jesse Crain has worked with Knights coach Rick Harig on various fundraising endeavors for the project. Those efforts have been thrown into overdrive, beginning with Crain’s Knight-of-Strikes fundraiser set for Saturday night, now that the project has taken on a greater scope.
Instead of simply building what essentially had been planned as an indoor batting cage, Harig has been in discussions with the leaders of other local high school teams about constructing a larger, multi-program facility that would include an indoor infield surrounded by a series of hitting cages and pitching mounds.
“The project started out pretty small but it has really grown into this big regional thing,” Harig said. “We all feel there is a big need for something like this that can be used all across Boulder County. We’re looking bigger now and researching where we might be able to find the land.”
Saturday night’s bowling-and-auction event at Fat Cats in Westminster is closed to the public, but as of Wednesday night Harig indicated several lanes still were available for purchase.
The event also will feature a silent auction for baseball memorabilia collected by Crain, and it’s an impressive list any baseball fan would treasure. Autographed bats from Rockies National League batting champion Justin Morneau. A ball signed by World Series hero Madison Bumgarner. And, among others, a jersey signed by recently retired White Sox slugger Paul Konerko.
Proceeds from the event will go toward the indoor facility project fund as well as the Knights’ summer club program, Knight Time Baseball, Inc. Besides Crain, the guest list includes former Rockies infielder Clint Barmes and Crain’s Houston Astros teammate, Scott Feldman.
“It’s still in the early process, but plans are being drawn up and we’re looking at where we can get land,” Crain said. “In the meantime, we’re also going to use the funds to help the guys work out this winter. We’re excited to have this moving forward, but we want to do it right. We want to build something that’s going to last.”
For Crain, the past two seasons have been the most physically trying of a big league career that began in 2004. Crain suffered a midseason shoulder injury with the White Sox in 2013 but still was part of a deadline trade to Tampa that summer. He never pitched for the Rays. Nor did he make an appearance for Houston this past year after signing a one-year free agent contract last offseason.
However, after enduring biceps surgery earlier this year, Crain reports he pitched a pain-free simulated game toward the end of the regular season. Now a free agent again, Crain expects to be fully recovered and in some team’s camp by the start of spring training.
“I’m just taking it as a regular offseason,” Crain said. “It’s been a long battle with the surgery, but before that it was tough not having a plan for what to do. Since the surgery at least there has been a plan and everything has gone well. My goal is to be ready for spring training.”
Donations, along with reservations for Saturday’s event, can be made by visiting Knight-of-Strikes.org.
Follow Pat on Twitter: twitter.com/prooney07