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Tournaments | Story | 5/30/2019

5 Star Baseball Experience

Cory Van Dyke        
Photo: Branson Owens (Perfect Game)

MARIETTA, Ga. – 5 Star Baseball has grown into a national brand, literally spanning from coast to coast with facilities in Georgia all the way to California, and even in between in Ohio among others.

For owner and president Andy Burress, the 5 Star program will forever hold a special place in his heart. Then under the name of Chain Baseball, a name that became synonymous with one of the best travel organizations in the nation, the program gave him his start in competitive baseball in front of scouts in 1993.

Just two short years later, Burress was drafted in the sixth round of the 1995 MLB Draft by the Cincinnati Reds.

“It forever changed my life,” Burress said. “This is why we’re here today because of that.”

What’s funny is that 5 Star Baseball, which made the name change from Chain Baseball in 2017, would not be in the place it is today without a few extenuating circumstances along the way.

Burress played his last year in professional baseball in 2001, making it as high up as AA ball with the Chattanooga Lookouts. A year later, he started his first indoor facility and ran it for three years before deciding to take his business prowess elsewhere.

Instead, Burress dove headfirst into the retail side of business, managing multiple Dairy Queens and carwashes. It was a thriving endeavor, as he helped turn a $600,000 Dairy Queen into a $900,000 Dairy Queen in gross sales in about a year and a half. It even landed Burress a conversation with Warren Buffet as he was named the owner of the year, but then the economy had other ideas.

“What ended up happening is in 2009 when the stock market crashed and everything went to crap, I sold everything I had and went back to baseball,” Burress said. “I had a good friend of mine, a mentor of mine… He always told me to stick to what you know.”

And baseball was exactly what Burress knew. Now, under his leadership, 5 Star Baseball has entered unchartered waters and taken the organization overseas.

“We opened up in Puerto Rico and that’s been a huge thing for us,” Burress said. “We opened up down there in the fall. Puchi Velasquez has done a great job.

“I had a connection down there, and it was just a unique thing. Went back over there a couple times and put up a facility down there. The people down there have really taken to it. We had three teams in the fall. There will be eight or nine teams 12 to 16 and under coming over to play in some of the events this fall and even this summer.”

And Burress doesn’t plan on ending the expansion anytime soon. He noted that Orlando will soon hold a facility, and Texas will be a home of 5 Star Baseball when it’s all said and done. So how is the program able to operate nationwide?

“The biggest thing is all about having the right people,” Burress said. “We’ve been able to get some great guys. Don Gullett Jr., his dad was a coach of mine in Cincinnati. We’ve had some great guys in the Carolinas. The key in any business is that you have to be able to have good people. I think we have across the board some of the best in this industry.”

It’s not just the sheer number of teams that 5 Star has across the board. It’s the talent that the program possesses.

So far, 5 Star Baseball has gone on to produce 965 college commitments and 112 drafted players. There’s also been nine players who have debuted in the MLB, the most popular being San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey.

“You always say what’s you report card,” Burress said. “Your report card in this industry if you have 100 players and 20 of them go to college, that’s not a very good report card. If you go back and look… 80-90 percent of our guys are committed somewhere.

“We don’t take a lot of new 16 and 17u guys. We’ll fill in some spots, but the guys that are with us at 16 are with us at 14. They’re with us so they understand the system. Our coaches have played with us. About 80 percent of our guys that have come back and coached with us have played in the organization.”

Based in Warner Robins, 5 Star Baseball has given an outlet to those skilled players not located in the big metropolitan areas.

“Across the board, our guys are rural,” Burress said. “We don’t really have a lot of big city kids… So most of our guys, this is all new to them. They haven’t been doing this since they were seven or eight years old. A lot of these guys when they get 13 or 14, this is the first time they’ve been involved in seeing some of the things that PG and different groups get to do.”

And while that may be the case, it certainly hasn’t prevented positive results on the field. Last week at the 2019 Southeast Memorial Day Classic, 5 Star National 14u and 5 Star National Burress won their respective championships.

It was just the start of the summer season, one that continues with the 2019 Perfect Game-East Cobb Invitational this weekend. It all culminates in a summer where Burress and Co. expect to see a lot more success to come for 5 Star Baseball.



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