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Dubuque’s relationship with baseball flourishes as facilities help train aspiring pros

Published: May. 3, 2021 at 11:11 PM CDT
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DUBUQUE, Iowa (KCRG) - Zach Sabers has been playing baseball since he was a little kid.

“I really like it because every at bat you have to step up there and face a batter, you just cannot run the clock out like football,” Sabers said. “You have to go up there every time and compete every pitch.”

Sabers is currently a senior at Hempstead High School in Dubuque and soon he will be going to Kirkwood Community College in Cedar Rapids to continue playing the sport he loves the most.

“That is what I am trying to make a career of,” Sabers said. “I treat it like it is my everyday job and that it is going to be my career in the future”

Sabers credits part of his success to spending hours practicing at baseball facilities in the area.

“We are in there every day for hours at a time just working on our stuff and we get such a jump before high school season when we can start practice because we are already in the facility working together every day,” Sabers said.

But, according to former professional baseball player Dusty Rogers, academies like the ones Sabers practices at have not always been around in Dubuque.

“The one thing that I never had growing up is I never had these indoor facilities,” Rogers said. “So once the winter, fall and all that stuff, it was too cold to do anything outdoors, so you turned into basketball or other indoor sports.”

Now Rogers is giving back to aspiring baseball, and even softball, players with his own indoor facility at the Dusty Rogers Baseball & Softball Academy. Rogers said they get children and teenagers from all over, including the tri-state area, Cedar Rapids, the Quad Cities, and Mason City.

“Once kids come here they come here with a dream,” Rogers said. “If they want to go and they want to play in high school, we are going to get them ready for high school.”

Rogers said they do the same for teenagers who want to play baseball or softball in college, just like Sabers. Rogers emphasized indoor facilities are key in making these aspiring professionals competitive.

“It helps because, if you look at Florida, Texas, Arizona, if you look at the Major League draft board, all of those kids are at the top because they get to play year-round,” Rogers said. “The luxury of having these kinds of facilities is that we can kind of nurture that now for these kids in the Midwest as well.”

This year, the Dusty Rogers Baseball & Softball Academy is going back to partnering with the City of Dubuque and its Leisure Services Department for its summer programming, something that was put on hold last year because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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