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Adam Ottavino’s Harlem Hide-Out

Michael Owens for The New York Times

The ambient pop of a catcher’s mitt greets you before you see the interior of the Lab. Inside the unmarked door on St. Nicholas Avenue in Harlem, past the canvas tarp blacking out the windows and around the ladder serving as a makeshift camera stand, awaits an 80-foot-long pitching mecca where the outside world quickly disappears.

The hurried passers-by might think this place amiss, but the former shoe store two blocks from the Apollo Theater and beneath a Chuck E. Cheese’s feels just right to the ballplayers who trek uptown to hone their craft.