He’s a gamer – literally.
When he’s not pitching from the mound at Target Field, Minnesota Twins pitcher Trevor May can be seen hunched in front of his computer. Staring into a camera hiked on his computer monitor with big stereo headphones, May is bringing fans closer to the game.
Well, at least to video games.
May, 27, has always been a talented pitcher. But he’s also a talented gamer.
While growing up in Kelso, Wash., May was what some would consider a gaming geek. His neighbor’s dad built desktop computers and he would spend hours and hours of the summer months indoors playing “World of Warcraft” hidden in the basement.
But when the Philadelphia Phillies drafted him out of high school, he had to suppress his inner nerd and harness his 95-mph fastball.
“I always really loved video games,” May told The Post on a phone call from Bradenton, FL., the site of Twins spring training. “But it’s something I have to tamper down with because baseball is more important.”
A fourth-round draft pick by the Phillies in 2008, he no longer resembled a holed-up gamer, but a legitimate prospect. After the 2011 season, Baseball America ranked the right-hander No. 69 of all of baseball’s prospects. The following year, he was the jeweled piece in a trade package that sent him and pitcher Vance Worley to the Twins for outfielder Ben Revere.
As far as he ascended in his baseball career, the three-year pro still never put down the controller.
Last year he discovered Twitch, a live streaming video program that publicly broadcasts video gamers to viewers. Through streaming, May plays games like Overwatch, using his handle iamtrevormay in front of fans, who can chat and interact with him through a personal donation. Instead of accepting the donations himself, May sends them to Extra Life, a partner of Twitch that benefits Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals.
A gaming nerd with a laser of a fastball — someone had to notice.
After months of watching Luminosity Gaming, what May calls a “tier-one” eSports team, from his computer, he started talking to Luminosity’s CEO Steve Maida. Fast forward to this month, May was named an ambassador of the team.
You could say he’s on his way to re-defining what it means to be a two-sport athlete.
While he said he’s open to becoming a professional gamer one day, for now May is diving into the business side of eSports, enticed by the opportunities for growth.
“I was a fan boy,” May said, when he first started getting recognized by Luminosity. “[But now] I get to see how things work, how you build traction getting into tournaments, how you build these good teams.”
May’s new expertise has helped him find parallels between his two careers. He said both sports require similar repeated movements, such as a pitcher’s mechanics compared to the way a player holds a controller.
“The five-tools are just different for video game players,” May said. “There are truly just some players who are more gifted than others.”
Just like baseball.
Except, while baseball players only turned their sport into a lucrative career over the past 70 years, May sees eSports catching on sooner rather than later.
And he’s not the only one. San Francisco Giants outfielder Hunter Pence is an avid gamer who usually broadcasts to YouTube. Chicago Bears tackle and three-time Pro Bowler Kyle Long also has his own Twitch account.
Twitch has over 100 million users-a-month on their servers. eSports, in general, have attracted fans from all over to world to attend live matches where they can watch players duke it out. Mainstream sports media outlets like ESPN have started covering eSports, from broadcasting live events to covering it online.
Even NBA commissioner Adam Silver recently said he considers eSports gamers athletes, albeit a “different kind of athlete,” since they don’t have to be physically gifted to be considered professionals.
That’s something May recognized early on, especially while growing up.
“A huge portion of the population of [eSports gamers] aren’t really sports fans,” May said. “There seems to be a disconnect when kids are really into video games that might not be into sports. Those sets of friends were just different. Kids who grew up playing video games who truly love video games are just getting their way to turn it into bringing out that competitor because people who are competitive who don’t really play sports didn’t have an outlet on a big-stage and definitely not as a career.”
As for May’s personal gaming habits, he plays for about two-and-a-half hours during Spring Training, citing “World of Warcraft” as his favorite game. During the season, he can extend his session to around four hours a day since the team doesn’t have to report to the field until around 2 p.m. In the offseason is when May does most of his hardcore streaming, playing as much as five hours a day.
For now, May has other things to focus on — like his wife Kate, whom he married this past November. He admits his gaming habits have changed since tying the knot, especially in the evenings when most of his gaming happens.
“I have to leave that time open to hang out with my wife,” he said with a laugh, admitting it was nice to take a break. “[Making] dinner and stuff when she comes home from work. But my time to play was during the day when she was at work. [So] it just didn’t line up. And it petered out.”
He also has a baseball career to focus on.
In his brief three-year career, May has appeared in 102 games for the Twins, mainly as a reliever. After going 2-2 with a 5.27 ERA in 44 games last season, May was shut down in September with a stress fracture in his back. He attributes the injury to poor mechanics due to shuffling between the bullpen and the rotation, saying he didn’t make the proper adjustments in his delivery. This offseason, he participated in one-on-one pilates to help him understand his body and know when to make adjustments in order to avoid injury.
May ideally wants to return to the rotation. Although he’s logged just 25 starts in the big leagues, the Twins seem willing to give him another opportunity.
“They are really pulling for me,” May said. “I’ve been told I’ll be given a legitimate chance to start. I’m going to give it everything I got. I’ve been training all offseason for it. It’s pretty clear in my mind I want to throw 200-innings. I want to win 20 games. I want to be in a Cy Young race. I want to do all that stuff. We’re talking about winning and I just want to win a spot.”
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