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By DANNY P. SMITH
Former Mississippi State baseball player Thomas Berkery is trying to get in "The Swing" of things in Starkville.
Berkery plans to open a baseball and softball training facility in Starkville next month and it will appropriately be called "The Swing."
After Berkery finished playing professional baseball in the Texas Rangers organization, he managed a similar training facility in Knoxville, Tenn. for a year. When his wife got a job in Birmingham, Ala., he began working with Matthew Maniscalco and Steve Gendron, two other former Diamond Dogs, at their place.
Berkery explored other job and schools opportunities, but his attention kept coming back to Starkville and what he could do to help the community he called home while attending Mississippi State.
"This is something I've wanted to do in Starkville since I graduated in 2006," Berkery said. "Even though I'm not from Starkville, I have a pride about it and for the sports in the area. This is an opportunity where I can provide, not only athletic guidance, but also good morals so they will not only be good ballplayers, but good people."
Berkery doesn't anticipate getting rich from this venture, but said if he can make a living and make a difference in the lives of young people, then the endeavor is worth it.
He already has a facility on Industrial Park Road. It's a 9,000 square feet building with a warehouse setup and a high ceiling.
The main function of the business will be to offer individual private lessons as far as hitting and pitching for baseball and girls softball. The facility will also be offered for team rentals.
"A Starkville 9-Under travel team can come in and use two cages and a pitching mound for an hour," Berkery said. "It basically gives them a chance to get their work in during the winter if it's raining or during the summer when it's blazing hot. This gives them a place to get out of the sun and can still get their practice done."
Once the business is established, Berkery said there will be other things to branch off such as tournament opportunities and travel teams with the Starkville Swing name.
Berkery anticipates having a grand opening in the middle of January and hopes the public will become involved.
"To make a place work, you have to hit on all cylinders," Berkery said. "You have to get the quality lessons and be available as far as hours go to the public."
Berkery said for anyone who has specific questions about the facility, they can call him at 662-617-9338.