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Radar pitch speed gun draws kids on Fourth

BY TAYLOR AXELSON | JULY 05, 2012 6:30 AM

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Moon bounces and inflatable slides drew young children to downtown Iowa City for some fun before the firework show began on Wednesday.

Boys of all ages took a chance of showing off their league-ready arms by taking turns throwing the baseball past the gun for the entertainment of their parents. The crowds were slow to come to Iowa Avenue for the festivities because of the extremely high temperatures.

"It's a little hot right now, probably around 100," Big Ten Rental employee Ryan Lehr said.

"Hopefully, as the shade comes out a little, more people will start coming."

Lehr was right. They didn't stay away for long.

The bright yellow, blues, and reds that colored the inflatable bounce activities took over the entire street. The scene was not easy to miss. More and more people continued to filter in as the evening went on and the heat became less intense.

Todd and Cynthia Weissenberger stopped by to let their 3-year-old son, August, take a few throws past the radar gun after a day of grilling out and going to the swimming pool. August has a small baseball setup in his backyard at home with two tees, but it's nothing formal, said Todd Weissenberger. The older neighborhood kids come over a lot and play games with him. They help him experience a higher level than what he would normally get.

August looked incredibly small underneath the tall arch that said "Radar Gun" across it in big letters, but he was confident in his skills. He stood unwavering in his Spiderman tennis shoes. It was obvious the lefty had seen a lot of baseball and knew exactly how to set up his pitch.

He stared down the batter over his right shoulder, who was printed at the end of the archway. With focus in his eyes, he put his left hand behind his back and turned the baseball over in his hand twice. August cocked up his right knee, threw his foot down, and pitched the ball as hard as he could.

The radar gun did not pick up his speed. August was to short for the gun to read the ball.

"I got one single hit," he said.

August's parents were not concerned about August being their moneymaker in the future.

"We have to get him into school first," Todd Weissenberger said.

The radar gun received more looks by kids running in between the two inflatables.

Seth Renquist and his three sons came over to the radar gun to kill some time while waiting to meet with their grandma to watch the fireworks. All three boys took turns trying to beat the previous thrower's speed. Tuck, 6, tried to throw his ball through his older brother.

"You want to get in front of everyone before you throw the baseball," Renquist said to his youngest.
"They play baseball for leisure, not sport," he said. "They just enjoy it."

The Fourth of July is a national holiday and a time to have fun. A sports tool used, in some form, by the professionals just happened to be a part of this year's festivities.


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