Playing club baseball is big business. Parents regularly spend thousands of dollars a year to get their kids training and extra game experience that they see as critical to attracting the attention of college recruiters. Many of those parents in Colorado Springs tell us Tad Reida’s CageRats Baseball at the Farm is the best in town. However, some former parents of the program claim they didn’t get what they paid for and that the business owner sued them for walking away.
Owner Tad Reida wouldn’t grant us an interview because of the ongoing litigation, but welcomed us into his business and let us speak with parents who are perfectly happy with the service they’re getting.
James Carlson signed up his 9-year-old and six-year-old boys with CageRats this year. He said he’s impressed by, "what he’s learning and how much he’s growing, from a baseball aspect, also just his confidence level."
Steve Palmer said his high school student made measurable growth since joining CageRats.
"We’ve seen his bat speed improve, his pitching speed improve, his arm speed improve," Palmer said.
Sebie Denson said what impressed him the most was the character building that the business provides.
"I want men teaching my son how to become a good man, these guys do that," he said.
Reida’s website boasts about all the players who’ve gone through the program and that play for NCAA Division I baseball teams. Hunter Parnell is one of those players.
"It is the reason why I ended up playing collegiate baseball, why I got the opportunities that I did because Tad does what he’s talking about," Parnell said. "Tad is a phenomenal baseball coach."
Christy Gravitt thought she was buying into that same dream for her son but said that’s not what Reida delivered.
"We were told that we were going to play 50 to 60 games. We played 24, and that includes all of our tournaments," Gravitt said.
Gravitt and her husband are among seven parents who were sued by Reida after they stopped paying for his service. She said Reida included scrimmages with other CageRats teams in his count of the total number of games played. She thinks those scrimmages should’ve been counted as practices.
"We would have no umpires, half of the time our pitcher would go pitch for the other team because he didn’t have enough players," Gravitt said.
Jennifer Davis is another parent being sued. She said her son’s coach, Greg Moviel, would never tell her where the games were going to be held and didn’t give her son the pitching training she thought he would get.
"He actually ended up teaching himself in our backyard, on his iPhone on YouTube videos, he’s teaching himself how to pitch," Davis said.
Morgan Garrison said she was hesitant to sign up her 11 and 12-year-old sons because she didn’t want them to play games on Sundays. She said Moviel told her they could simply play the Saturday games on the schedule. So, she decided to join.
"I opened up the schedule and it’s all doubleheaders on Sunday," Garrison said. "I emailed Tad and Greg immediately and said, hi guys, we don’t play Sundays and these are all Sunday games."
She said was charged was $1,375 for the boys to play on two separate teams based on their age groups. Instead placed for the same team, even though Garrison said she paid a higher rate for the 12-year-old.
When she asked for a refund, Garrison said Reida told her she would have to wait until another parent signed up to take her children’s spots on the team. No ever did.
Steve Palmer, whose son is thriving with CageRats, said he had a completely different experience when he joined.
"Day one, when we came into this club, Tad was very clear about the contract and why there was a contract," Palmer said. "He was very clear about how the team was going to be run, what the practices, what the game schedule looked like."
Reida showed one of his contracts. They are non-refundable but contain a 30-day cancellation provision. He explained on background that he views the agreements as being similar to a gym membership. When parents walk away halfway through a season, it hurts the other players and parents on the team.
Garrison and Davis both signed contracts with Reida. Gravitt said she did not.
Reida said he didn’t use contracts when he first opened his business in Brighton years ago. However, he indicated that too many parents simply took advantage of him and would stop payment at the end of a season.
Christy Gravitt thinks Reida is the one taking advantage of her.
"If you go to get your tires changed on your car and they only change two, you want to pay for two, not for four," she said. "So, if I’m playing 24 games instead of 60, I’m not paying for 60 games."
Of the seven collections cases Reida filed, two have resulted in default judgments in his favor. Moviel no longer works for CageRats.
News 5 searched court databases to try and see whether other clubs in town use such aggressive collections methods. We found just the opposite. There have been three cases filed involving the Colorado Baseball Academy, an in each case the parents are the plaintiffs.
Several other parents emailed News 5 to discourage us from running this story and offer their praise for the organization. We have uploaded those testimonials here .