MONTICELLO (WCIA) — His days of playing baseball are over, but Chris Basak’s life has brought him just down the road from where his Illini career started. The father of three retired from the game and moved to Monticello in 2009.
“We were starting a family, and it just seemed like the next phase,” says Basak. “I look back and I loved the opportunity I had to play, but I loved everything about it after that.”
Basak was drafted in 2000 to the New York Mets, after a successful career at Illinois. Basak won a Big Ten Championship that year, while earning the 10th highest all-time batting average in program history. Basak spent nearly a decade playing professional baseball, including a brief stint in the majors with the New York Yankees. Basak was looking to stay involved with sports after his athletic career, so him and his wife Samantha decided to start ‘Pregame Sports’– a sports facility in Monticello.
“Just getting involved with that, we’ve always had a big interest in sports and how it affected our lives,” says Basak. “It just really came together.”
“There are so many kids in this area that want to be doing things, and they just didn’t have the space to do it,” says Samantha Basak. “I think we have a lot of kids that want to playing sports and just wanted to provide a space for that.”
Pregame Sports is still under construction, but they have several plans for the state-of-the-art facility. They will include batting cages, a turf field, a wrestling room, cardio rooms, a tumbling course, and more. They plan to house other local business as well, that provide lessons, training, or other services to athletes. They look forward to partnering with KLEEN Movement, and Dr. Sanders Vision Therapy, among others.
“Monticello is a very loyal town, they love their sports, and this will provide a place where all the sports can be under the same roof, and create a camaraderie,” says Basak. “Just to help grow hopefully grow the interest and the excitement of Monticello and all their sports.”
Pregame Sports has been several years in the making, breaking ground in November. Construction was slowed down due to COVID-19, but they hope to open their doors by the end of June.
Pregame Sports is located at 2025 East Washington Street in Monticello.