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Where to Get Into the Swing : * Several area batting cages provide baseball and softball pitching machines.

June 25, 1993|R. DANIEL FOSTER | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES; R. Daniel Foster writes regularly for The Times. and

Remember playing street baseball?

Mr. Stuvor's '62 Impala was first base, the corner lamppost was outfield, and balls that landed in Mrs. Duncan's back yard were automatic outs--because her dog ate them.

Today, about 50 million Americans play baseball or softball--in youth leagues, company teams and senior leagues, according to the Athletic Training Equipment Co. in Santa Cruz.

As any 9-year-old knows, you want to look good while standing at home plate to avoid the ultimate embarrassment: striking out. Several area batting cages provide baseball and softball pitching machines that can help improve your form. Some locations offer lessons and a few have facilities for baseball-themed birthday parties.

The following batting cages provide bats and helmets and offer team discounts, food and drinks.

Glendale Batting Cage: Seven cages, some with fast-pitch softball. Lessons are $20 per half an hour. Machine pitching is $3 for five minutes, $6.50 for 15 minutes, $10.50 per half an hour and $18.50 per hour. Open 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturdays, and 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sundays. 622 E. Colorado Blvd., Glendale. (818) 243-2363.

North Hollywood Castle: Eight cages, some with fast-pitch softball. Birthday parties, which include popcorn, hot dogs, soft drinks, sundaes and access to cages, are $7.95 per child. Machine pitching is $1 for 20 pitches, $12 per one-half hour, $20 per hour. Open 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, 10 a.m. to midnight Fridays and Saturdays, 9 a.m. to midnight Sundays. 12400 Vanowen St., North Hollywood. (818) 765-4000.

Baseball City: Seven cages, some with fast-pitch softball. Lessons are $45 per hour or $145 per four hours. Machine pitching is $1 per 20 pitches, $12 for 30 minutes, $24 per hour. Customized birthday parties for eight to 18 kids, at $12 per child, include a baseball game on an adjacent field with pitcher and catcher provided. A postgame party features soft drinks, pizza and cake on outside picnic tables. Each child also receives three tokens for video games on the premises. Open 2:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. Mondays through Fridays and 10 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. 28752 Roadside Drive, Agoura Hills. (818) 991-7252.

Bat-A-Way: Five cages. Indoor tables are available for do-it-yourself birthday parties. Machine pitching costs 25 cents for seven pitches, $12 per half an hour, $22 per hour. Open noon to 10 p.m. Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturdays, and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sundays. 14485 Raymer St., Van Nuys. (818) 786-1600.

Castle Batting Park: Nine cages, some with fast-pitch softball. Lessons are $100 for five 40-minute sessions. Machine pitching is $1.50 for 25 pitches, $8.50 for 15 minutes, $14 per half an hour, $24 per hour. Open 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, 11 a.m. to midnight Fridays, 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sundays. 4989 N. Sepulveda Blvd., Sherman Oaks. (818) 905-1321.

World Series Batting Range: Ten cages, some with fast-pitch softball. Lessons, given in two live-pitch cages with mounds, are $45 an hour. Machine pitching is $1.50 for 25 pitches, $8 for 15 minutes, $14 per half an hour, $18 per 45 minutes, $24 per hour. Open 2:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. Mondays through Fridays and 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. 11155 Woodley Ave., Granada Hills. (818) 366-4059.

Grand Slam Batting Cage: Nine cages, some with fast-pitch softball. Machine pitching is $1.25 per 25 pitches, $7 for 15 minutes, $12.50 per half an hour, $22 per hour. Open 11:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Mondays through Fridays and 10 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. 8345 Hayvenhurst Place, Sepulveda. (818) 891-5173.

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