The little righty wearing the Bob Feller jersey squeezed the ball, cranked up and let fly with all his might. Seemed pretty pleased with his heater, until he stepped back and saw the radar reading: 29 mph.
As the 9-year-old trudged away, too embarrassed to look at his dad, the man running the speed gun arcade outside the New York Mets' spring training park in Port St. Lucie, Fla., shook his head.
"These kids see it on TV these days, it looks so easy," he said. "Those Tigers pitchers throw the ball -- 104. Then these boys try it -- 27."
So blame it on Joel Zumaya, Justin Verlander & Co. They really started this latest heat wave, blowing away A-Rod, Jason Giambi and Derek Jeter last October.
Radar rage has taken over baseball.
"It's definitely out of hand," New York Mets closer Billy Wagner said. "I remember my first game with Philadelphia. I hit 100 with my first two pitches. My third was 99, and they booed."
Fans demand to see the numbers posted on scoreboards and TV screens. Scouts point their Jugs and Stalker guns at every fastball. Even hitters fixate on the speed boys.
And with Jason Schmidt, Kyle Farnsworth, Bobby Jenks, Josh Beckett, Daniel Cabrera, Felix Hernandez and more, there are plenty of guys who can bring it.
"If somebody's clocking it hard on our team or the other team, I'm checking to see what it was," Florida second baseman Dan Uggla said. "Doesn't happen a whole lot. We're still fans of all that kind of stuff."
So is Zumaya. It fits -- the Detroit reliever recently put giant flame tattoos on his rocket right arm to match those already streaking up his left.
"I know where the radar reading is at every stadium," he said. "That's kind of a sad thing to know, isn't it?"
"I look," he said. "I think everybody realizes I can throw triple digits."
Especially after Fox TV got him at 104 mph in the playoffs. Even Zoom-Zoom thought that was a little too quick.
"Personally, I think the hardest I've thrown is 103," he said.
Oh, one other truth-be-told fact about Zumaya: When he was a teenager, he spent a few bucks at carnivals, trying out those speed machines.
"You always wanted to be the fastest in your crew," he said. "I'd do it, we all would. The best I did was somewhere in the 80s."
Roger Clemens and Randy Johnson are among the many aces who have won with heat. Then there are Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and Jamie Moyer. They fly below the radar and rely on those pillars of pitching -- location and changing speeds.
When he was younger, New York Yankees star Mike Mussina said he cared more about his gun numbers. After 239 wins and 2,572 strikeouts, he's focusing on getting outs, rather than radar readings.
"I think it's become an entertainment tool at games, at stadiums," he said. "I think scouts and others, they find it important to be able to judge somebody's talent. But they're putting it in every stadium out there. It's become an entertainment tool."
Sometimes a dangerous one.
When he pitched in Cleveland, Bartolo Colon used to drive manager Mike Hargrove crazy when he tried to hit triple digits. Other young pitchers give in to temptation, trying to reach big numbers.
At 24, Marlins reliever Taylor Tankersley understands why someone would overthrow.
"It's everything that makes the inside of a man a man. You want to throw it the strongest, hardest, fastest that you can or anyone can," he said. "But sooner or later, you realize your job is to get outs, and with a couple of exceptions, that means anything but throwing it as hard as you can."