Baseball dreams come true for Hampton man

Jack Yerxa is sort of like Wild Thing but without the fastball.

Yet the 30-year-old Hampton man is getting to throw pitches from the mounds of some of baseball's great stadiums.

Yerxa works for TrackMan, a Danish doppler radar technology firm that specializes in ball flight.

​Yerxa's role as a regional operations co-ordinator with the company, which started out in golf and moved into baseball about eight years ago, had him in Queens, N.Y., late in March at Citi Field — home of the New York Mets — setting up the company's equipment. As part of the calibration process, Yerxa has to throw some pitches.

"I have to get up on the mound and fire 49-mile-an-hour heaters that rarely hit the strike zone," Yerxa said.

"Sometimes I pinch myself at just the reality of what I've been able to do."

Toronto, Boston on list

Yerxa is also taking to major league mounds in Boston, Pittsburgh, New York, Toronto and Chicago as the process is repeated in other stadiums.

"I'm not sure I'm necessarily the most qualified pitcher, per se," said Yerxa. "I played baseball a bit growing up but I never pitched because I really just couldn't throw that well.

"[But] when you are tasked to do a job, I guess you just got to do it. You've got to find a way.

"For the most part, it really has been a very, very cool experience. It's a trip, I've got to be honest with you."

Tracks 20 data points

The company's radar technology tracks 27 different data points for every pitch, providing information such as the rate of spin on the ball when leaving the pitcher's hand, how far ahead of the pitching rubber the ball is when it's released, and the speed of the ball when coming off the hitter's bat.

"We're in such an information age of this technology," Yerxa said. "If teams can get some type of advantage from this data that comes from our systems, they go crazy over it."

And with each major league team typically having six or seven minor league affiliates and more than 200 players in their system, the company is busier than ever, he said.

"We're pretty much in, I would say now, 85 per cent of professional stadiums."

Another aspect of Yerxa's job is the "delicate" dealings with groundskeepers so the company can put its equipment in place.

"The groundskeepers don't want you there," he said. "There's a whole rules-of-engagement type of thing that goes into that.

"But at the end of the day you are still getting paid to throw off major league pitching mounds … not very well, mind you. I've got to say I'm pretty happy with what I do."