They say baseball isn't a game; it's a way of life. For two dads in Sheboygan County, that couldn't be more true.
"It was my favorite game growing up. It's certainly my son's favorite game. They can't get enough of it," says Shane Thorne, co-owner of Hit Machine.
"We don't take as many vacations as other families do because ours kind of revolve around the baseball diamond," says Dave Krebsbach, co-owner of Hit Machine.
However, not every baseball lover is a fan of each other right away.
"Yeah, I did not like Dave at all when I first met him. I say that in jest. Dave's hyper-competitive like I am when it comes to baseball. He's coached the Plymouth team, and they've got a great program, and Kohler's had a great program. So it seems over the last five years, our kids have been playing since second grade, we've always competed in the championship. Some years they'd get us, some years we'd get them," says Shane.
Foes turned into friends. Both Dave and Shane's kids used the same local batting cage. Unfortunately, the pandemic forced it to close. Fortunately, the two baseball families were willing to team up.
"Shane, I think halfheartedly, said to me maybe we should open one up. I don't know if he was expecting my response, but I said yes immediately," says Dave.
Installing turf, nets, and equipment, the Hit Machine in Sheboygan was born. But this isn't just a place to take some swings, and some serious baseball technology lies within these walls.
"HitTrax is the best in the business. This measures launch angle, it measures the exit velocity, you can play live simulated games. We could have a pitcher in there and a batter going live against each other and capturing metrics," says Shane.
Drawing attention across the county, Hit Machine is bringing athletes together and growing the game.
"It's neat to see kids come from other places and see what we have to offer and are excited about what we have to offer. But it was neat that we were able to bring the city's talent pool together," says Dave.
Able to virtually hit at any stadium, live, off a machine, or even a tee, it almost makes practice feel more like play.
"The kids are only limited by how much they want to work. This facility has everything they need to get themselves better, from a full fielding area to pitching, to hitting, to HitTrax. So it's got everything they need. They just have to put the work in," says Shane.
Open to the public, check out https://www.hitmachinebaseball.com/ for hours or membership prices.