Just in time for Phillies fever, 6ABC brought a pro pitching simulator for a demonstration.
Baseball fans swung for the fences Thursday, Oct. 29 on Main Campus – the virtual ones, that is.
They may not have been able to launch a ball down Liacouras Walk or onto Broad Street, but batters had the chance to swing at high-speed pitches from a virtual player in a state-of-the-art pitching simulator.
The ProBatter Professional PX2 simulator was set up outside of Maxi’s and 7-Eleven on Liacouras Walk for three hours.
The self-contained unit measures a massive 80 feet by 20 feet and was brought to campus in the spirit of the Phillies’ World Series appearance through sponsorship by local television station 6ABC.
Many students, however, had no idea the simulator was coming to campus.
“At first I thought it was a moon bounce, but I was excited to see a batting cage,” senior natural sciences major Garry Cole said.
ProBatter Representative Adam Battersby said the company’s public relations firm pitches potential demos to media outlets during the times around Opening Day and the MLB postseason. This postseason alone, the simulator has been to 10 locations – Thursday’s appearance at Temple was its fourth in the Delaware Valley.
“It’s a fun, basic entertainment machine,” Battersby said.
But ProBatter simulators can be anything but basic. The systems, used by MLB teams like the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox and New York Mets, can throw faster than 100 mph and can be adjusted to throw different types of pitches.
“This simulator can pitch at speeds up to 90 mph, but we’ll keep it around 65 [mph] today,” Battersby said.
Matt O’Donnell from Action News was the first to step up to the plate.
O’Donnell swung and missed the first three, finally making a connection on the fourth pitch. On the seventh pitch, he made a hit that would have likely hit Annenberg Hall had safety nets not been set up along Liacouras Walk.
The segment was taped for a portion of Friday’s morning newscast.
O’Donnell joked with the crowd of students, “Who’s going to be the first to hit one into Mr. Dickinson’s science lab?” after a ball escaped through a hole in the netting.
Temple senior Cole was the first student to step into the batter’s box.
“It’s different than a batting cage because of the video screen,” Cole said of his experience. The 8-by-10-foot projection screen displays a high quality image of a pitcher winding up, as a ball is thrown from a hole matching up to the pitchers’ release point.
“I didn’t know what to expect. It threw all strikes and was very realistic,” senior Hebrew major Ari Charlestein said.
Charlestein, who was decked in Phillies gear head-to-toe, said he hasn’t played organized baseball in a while.
“The best part is,” he said, “it’s fun and free.”
Matthew Wargo can be reached at email@example.com.