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By DANNY P. SMITH
Former Mississippi State baseball player Thomas Berkery grins when he thinks about the possibilities of The Starkville Swing Baseball Academy.
A ribbon-cutting ceremony was conducted last Friday for Berkery's new business, a baseball and softball training facility on Industrial Park Road.
"I can't contain myself much longer and we're not totally done yet, but it's presentable," Berkery said. "It's coming together and the facility is unbelievable for what we need it for. It has size with no pole and no obstructions."
Berkery gave a tour to those present for the ribbon-cutting and held a reception later in the day. Other former Diamond Dogs, including Ed Easley and Josh Johnson, were there lending their support.
It's Berkery's hopes that The Swing will be up and running soon. He has received indications from the contractor that the building will be ready by the end of the week.
The Jan. 1 tornado that struck Starkville caused some minor damage in the vicinity of The Swing, but only hurt scheduled shipments.
"(The storm) kept some of the guys trying to get here from out of town," Berkery said. "It only took away a week and a couple of days of not being able to work. I know they were definitely behind with some of the shipments with some of the insulation, but they are getting after it and are giving us some of their best efforts."
Berkery is anxious to give young people an experience that should make a big difference in their playing careers.
"I don't think these kids quite know what they are capable of," Berkery said. "It's not that I'm the best instructor in the world, but if I can take what I've learned from the people I've learned it from and get it to them, they are going to get better.
"Whether it's the simplest thing or if it's something I teach a 17-year-old that turns them from a five home runs to 10, what they get is good."
Berkery thanked the Greater Starkville Development Partnership for including The Swing in its list of priorities and being at the ribbon-cutting ceremony.
"I was looking at the website and looking at all the businesses that are a part of the partnership," Berkery said. "I figured those people know what they are doing. They are good business people so I'm going to follow their lead and join in."