COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - If your last name is Rasmus, baseball is the family business.
Father Tony built Russell County High into a powerhouse and is regarded as one of the top prep coaches in the nation. His four sons carried on the diamond tradition, two taking their talents all the way to the major leagues.
Now it's time to pass on the knowledge and they're doing it in style. Forget the field of dreams – they're busy building a Warehouse of dreams.
About 18 months ago, Colby Rasmus purchased a 75-thousand square foot building just off of Old Opelika Road. The 10-year major league baseball veteran then began the task transforming it into the home of CR Baseball.
"Me and my brother Casey started it with the idea of a Christian-based organization. I always had the dream to want to do it to try to help the community and to help kids find a better path, and I think baseball is a good avenue for that," says Colby Rasmus. "It just kind of grew from wanting to have a place for the community to come in here and get better, just keep it simple and easy as possible and let's get to work."
Casey is youngest Rasmus brother. He spent three years in the Cardinals organization as a catcher, making to Double-A, transitioning into coaching a travel ball team, then taking over operations of the new CR Baseball facility, supervising the expansion into both halves of the building.
"We have a lot of tools here for kids, the HitTrax machines which give instant feedback on their hitting and throwing as well. It's definitely giving the people that want to push themselves and hopefully be the next Colby, Hudson, whoever, giving them every tool to do that," says Casey Rasmus.
There's no shortage of instructors. Coaches bring their teams to the CR facility for practices. And on staff are a half-dozen former players with minor league and major college experience, along with a former college football strength and conditioning coach. Not on the staff, but heavily involved are the other two Rasmus brothers. Cory's shoulder injuries put his career on hold, but the former Braves and Angels pitcher is busy passing on his knowledge, as is Cyle, currently an assistant coach at Russell County High.
"People don't realize the number of good baseball players around here. We have so many good schools that are successful. Not many areas of this size with this amount of people produces good baseball teams, this many of them. We have four or five good high school teams every year. You see 'em – they're here. We got so many players here from all different schools. We've got kids all the way from Atlanta, LaGrange that come here to play baseball, and that's a testament to what Casey's done here to have success," explains Cyle Rasmus.
For us to be able to carry over what our dad and other coaches have instilled in us, the work ethic, the drive, the determination, and also the mental side of the game, that's what it's all about. That's the name of the game. Come in here, work hard, but enjoy it at the same time," adds Cory Rasmus.
Taking a break is as important as handling the breaking pitch. The baseball instruction can be intense, but they're also trying not to let it get too over-the-top. There's a ping-pong table in the front, and in the back, there's a basketball goal. It's all about perspective.
"Our goal is to basically show people to not get too carried away in wins and losses, and big leagues, and big-time college ball, but slow down a little bit and enjoy your time playing at this level. These years – 10, 11, and 12-13 – they're over and done with and now the kids are in college, and the next thing you know they're done playing baseball as a whole. The main thing I want to do is we look back and these kids can say four or five years from now, "Man, I had a blast playing at CR. It was a great time. I got better, we won some ballgames, but the main thing is I fun. I created some good memories with some good friends of mine," comments Casey Rasmus.
CR continues to try to draw more players. They're hosting a summer clinic for the next four weeks at their facility.
Lots of great talent and great coaching, this is how this area remains a baseball hotbed.