BEST BATTING CAGE Minneapolis 1999 -
This out-of-the-way blast from the past is tailor-made for the kitsch-loving St. Paul Saints fan. Weathering mechanical modernization and Atari-influenced computerization for the last 25 years, this family-owned amusement park offers buzzing go-carts, a wonderfully cheesy miniature golf "course," even paint ball in a nearby, sparsely wooded field. But it's the outdoor batting cages that are most reminiscent of the good ol' days. Cranked up when the snow melts and tossing softballs and whipping baseballs until the fall's hard freeze, the four huffing, puffing pitching machines have just enough oomph to keep those pectorals flinching. For just a buck you can swing at 20 balls, from 10:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. seven days a week. What's more, and Saints fans will appreciate this, when the sun goes down, the lights come up. Think of it: Traffic buzzing behind you on Rice Street, a summer breeze cooling the sweat on your flushed cheeks, the sound of kids playing nearby, a fastball spinning under the floodlights, and then...and then...crack. Kirby who?