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From good buys to good bats

PHOENIX — Red Barn Auction, a Rogue Valley staple since 1960, is now The Gashouse, a baseball training facility for kids ages 9 to 18. The last auction was held on Dec. 28.

Sean Gallagher has opened his Playball Prospects program in the 5,000-square-foot space. The program will offer year-round training and playing opportunities.

Gallagher was head baseball coach at St. Mary’s High School from 2012 to 2017. The team won the 3A state championship in 2017 and he was named Baseball Coach of the Year by the Oregon Athletic Coaches Association. During those years he operated Playball as an off-season training program.

The program emphasizes hitting, pitching, foot work and glove work. The facility has bull pens, hitting cages and hitting machines to pitch balls.

“We video nearly everything. The biggest difference from the ’70s to now is that we can do video analysis, ” said Gallagher. There’s a video room for viewing, players receive unedited video footage and older players get finished video profiles and assistance with college recruitment.

Gallagher works with non-profit Southern Oregon Baseball which helps with scholarships for low-income students, training equipment and travel money for teams.

Gallagher took a job in Division 2 college baseball at Davis and Elkins College in West Virginia following the St. Mary’s championship, but decided to return to the Rogue Valley after one year.

“I found that my real passion is developing kids,” said Gallagher.

When he started in 2010 training was done outdoors, sometimes even in the snow. He was later able to rent smaller indoor spaces. The Red Barn facility has a high ceiling and concrete floor. Mats are used on the concrete floor for some training sessions.

Students previously paid an hourly charge for instruction and time. Now there’s a membership fee that will give access to the facility and provide uniforms for the traveling ball teams that are part of the program. Traveling teams will go to Southern California to play during colder, wetter months. There will also be local teams.

Two two-hour group sessions per week are included during the four-month off season as part of the fee. Players can drop in any time to work on skill development with the coaching staff that Gallagher is still assembling.

A one-year membership that covers all children in a family costs $2,200. A monthly payment option is available. So far 30 kids are enrolled in the program, which began last week.

Grants Pass High School seniors Cade King and Grace Gaither were at the facility Thursday afternoon working on hitting curve balls. King is on the school’s baseball team and Gaither is on the softball team. After graduating, Gaither will attend Oregon State University where she plans to continue to play softball.

King and Gaither faced the Hitting Hydra, a machine put together by Gallagher from various hitting equipment. A special light ball is used that mimics the characteristics of a regular hardball but without the sting or potential for injury if a player is hit.

Red Barn owner Nita Brood has leased the facility to Gallagher. With her husband — auctioneer Duane Brood, who died earlier this year — she had operated the auction for 54 years after the couple took it over in 1964. During the 1960s and 1970s, crowds of upwards to 200 people would come the auction, Nita said in an article on the auction house closing that appeared in the Mail Tribune March 28.

Facility hours are weekdays 4 to 8 p.m. and weekends from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. The Gashouse is at 5421 S. Pacific Highway, between Talent and Phoenix. The website is pbprospects.com.

Reach Ashland freelance writer Tony Boom at tboomwriter@gmail.com.


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