Best Of 2005

BEST BASEBALL INSTRUCTION: All-Star Baseball and Softball School

The days of the three-sport high school kid are basically over. It’s all about specialization. Often before the age of 10, a child will have chosen a single sport. And then comes an entire pre-adolescence of training and playing in leagues. And instruction. Baseball, especially, requires expert individual coaching, which kids get in spades at the All-Star School. The large indoor facility, just a few months old, is located in an industrial park in St. Pete. It’s been cordoned into sections with chain-link fencing and nets, in order to create several lanes for hitting, pitching and fielding instruction. Along with it are the usual menagerie of pitching machines and other gear. This is all well and good, but the value in a place like this lies in the coaching quality, and this is where All-Star excels. Owner Chris Wilson, camp director Pete Snyder and former major leaguer John Frascatore, along with others, run kids through creative drills. (They also work with teams.) The atmosphere is fun, energetic and, most of all, designed to make better baseball players. 4801 31st N., St. Petersburg, 727-528-3186,