By Max Goodwin
The Atlanta Braves and Houston Astros face off in this year’s World Series.
A matchup featuring two individuals whose paths crossed more than a decade ago at a Martin City business, Mac N Seitz, a 47,000-square foot indoor baseball and softball development facility.
Kevin Seitzer, who is now the current Braves hitting coach heading to the fall classic, started Mac N Seitz in 1996 with his friend and former teammate Mike Macfarlane.
For 25 years now, the organization they started together has developed the skills and mindsets of young ball players, including Ryne Stanek, a now 30-year-old relief pitcher for the Astros.
Whichever team wins, Braves or Astros, there will be a Mac N Seitz connection in the clubhouse.
Macfarlane and Seitzer established Mac N Seitz after playing together with the Royals. While hunting one off-season, sitting in a duck blind, Macfarlane asked Seitzer what he planned to do after retirement. Seitzer was thinking about getting a place to give hitting lessons, “dude, that’s what I want to do,” Macfarlane replied, and they began the journey together.
Macfarlane, sitting on the field at Mac N Seitz just a few hours before Seitzer’s Braves took the field for Game 5 of the NLCS against the Los Angeles Dodgers, reminisced on the last 25 years of the organization.
“It was more of a labor of love,” Macfarlane said.
“Lasting that long, we’ve always had one core belief in mind, that it’s about kids getting better.”
Macfarlane and Seitzer both had young kids when they started the organization. They figured if they were going to be teaching their own kids the game, they might as well teach others the basics too.
Macfarlane’s daughter, Allie, developed through Mac N Seitz and went on to play at St. Louis University. In 2018, she graduated as the school’s all-time leader in RBI and now coaches softball teams with her dad at Mac N Seitz.
“It’s kind of a good cop, bad cop. They like her, I’m the coach,” Mike said. “My dad was a coach, and here I am coaching, she could coach at any college, I think that she wanted to, but she’s an engineer.”
One of Macfarlane’s favorite aspects of coaching is seeing former Mac N Seitz players return as adults. This year he will get to see a former Mac N Seitz player in the World Series.
“Just seeing these guys from when they were 12 to now they’re men at 19 or 20 in college, or 25,” Macfarlane said. “Ryne Stanek who is pitching phenomenally well in the playoffs with the Astros. Seeing him and the man that he’s become, you like to think that yeah we had a part in that.”
Ryne Stanek is an essential member of the Houston bullpen. He’s pitched in every game except one this postseason for the Astros with a 1.35 ERA and six strikeouts in 6.2 innings. He ended the regular season with a 3.42 ERA and 83 strikeouts in 68.1 innings pitched.
Over the years, as Seitzer has progressed as an MLB hitting coach, the responsibilities of running the business grew for Macfarlane. A few years ago, Macfarlane and Seitzer sold the facility.
New owner, Danny Lake, was the Board of Directors President at the Lee’s Summit Baseball Association before buying Mac N Seitz. Lake said he has always loved baseball and became more involved when his two sons were playing.
Lake loved both the location of Mac N Seitz, in Martin City with the ability to serve Missouri and Kansas, and the family culture that had been established.
“We just felt like it was an organization that was being run the right way,” Lake said. “We felt like the foundation that Mike and Kevin had created, with the way they focused on development, the way they focused on the players, the families and the connections that were made. Mike and Kevin are still connected to players that went through the organization.”
Some current Mac N Seitz instructors are former players who have had successful college baseball careers and now returned to coach the next generation. That ability to teach lessons that come from high-level experience to young players is what Mac N Seitz was founded on.
Nik Crouch is Director of Baseball Operations, Nate Arnold is Director of Youth Teams, and Dakota Smith is Assistant Youth Coordinator.
Nate Arnold and Dakota Smith went on to play at the University of Kansas after developing at Mac N Seitz when they were younger. Smith grew up in Leavenworth, traveling an hour on the highway to Mac N Seitz to work on hitting and pitching. He valued his time in high school learning from Macfarlane and said that he’s proud to be part of the organization that Macfarlane and Seitzer created.
“Mac N Seitz was my favorite place to be growing up,” Smith said. “The facility and environment always made me feel at home”
Macfarlane is confident that Mac N Seitz will remain a place for kids to develop their skills and love for baseball and softball long into the future.
“This is still the best place to do everything you want to in here,” Macfarlane said. “Financially there were some lean years, we had to bite the bullet some years, but we were true to what we were trying to do as far as making the best possible environment for kids to develop. That’s kind of what carried us through.”