New owners expand Sluggers services

Published 10:51 pm Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Jeff Meyers and Orel Schleeper, coaches for the First Baptist Christian School baseball team, have bought Sluggers in downtown Suffolk and are expanding its services. The company still offers 10,000 square feet of batting cages, but the new owners plan to offer an additional 3,000 square feet of space for other sporting needs in the community. They are planning a special event to celebrate taking over the facility on Saturday

By Titus Mohler

Sluggers Indoor Batting Cages, Pro Shop, and Sports Photography store on West Constance Road has recently come under new ownership and will have its Grand Re-Opening on Saturday, February 18th, from 10 AM to 2 PM.

The new owners, Jeff Meyers and Orel Schleeper, are veteran coaches in the local baseball community, which is how they met. Schleeper has coached with the Suffolk Youth Athletic Association for 17 years and Meyers for about nine. Both men are coaches on the varsity baseball team at First Baptist Christian School.

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“Orel and I both had come up here,” Meyers said. “We had coached together for years, and we’ve used the facility. It’s a great training facility for youth, and my son comes up here and takes private lessons.”

“It’s such a good thing for the youth … someplace for them to go and have teams to come,” Schleeper said.

Sluggers, a 10,000-square-foot facility, has been in existence for three years, but as of last year, it was teetering on the brink of closure. The previous owners were desperate for a buyer and whenever it seemed like they had one lined up, the deal fell through.

“They were going to close on the 17th of January,” Meyers said.

Meyers spoke to the previous owners about the situation and then, in the fall, he decided to give Schleeper a call. Both men had an interest in this kind of business because of their baseball coaching experience.

“So we talked and talked and talked a couple times more,” Meyers recalled, “and decided that we wanted to try to save it.”

They officially took over Jan. 13.

Though they wanted to save the store, the men also wanted to bring positive changes. Primary among those changes is the concept of Sluggers being a facility that can be used year-around for multiple different sports and events.

“That’s kind of the thing we want to try to make sure people understand,” Meyers explained. “Obviously the name’s ‘Sluggers,’ but we want to be more than just baseball.”

There is a sports equipment store in front and batting cages in the middle of the building with baseball and softball pitching machines. But there is also a 3,000 square foot multi-purpose back room.

That room could be used to host cornhole tournaments, cheerleading practices, Pilates groups, and and birthday parties, the men said.

That’s not all that is new, though.

“Jeff’s added some photography,” Schleeper explained. “We’re doing team pictures.”

Meyers has a small photography business and a section of the spacious back room will, at times, be able to serve as a photo studio to support this new Sluggers offering.

Thus far, business has been good for the new owners. Meyers credits the uniqueness of the services provided, the newly-updated website (, and Schleeper’s strong reputation in the community.

“Everybody locally has been real supportive,” Schleeper said.

Representatives from Louisville Slugger, Wilson DeMarini and Easton will be on hand Saturday to promote their latest products. The store will be giving out prizes, free tokens for the batting cages and food.