LAKELAND, Fla. (WFLA) — When he’s not forecasting for our Max Defender 8 weather team, meteorologist Eric Stone has a unique hobby – one he’s really good at.

Stone is the top-rated pinball player in the world. He’s been playing since he was a kid, and says the obsession started as his mother’s idea to help her premature baby.

“The doctors had told my mother that I wouldn’t develop hand-eye coordination,” Stone explained. “We’re a Christian family and she prayed and said, ‘ya know what, I’m just gonna buy a pinball machine’ – at 4 years old.”

It was clear early on that Stone had a gift for the game of pinball. Now, every Monday, Stone finds himself on camera – not only on WFLA, but also streaming on Twitch.

He has to have not just the coordination, but a knowledge of every rule specific to every game.

Stone is putting those skills to the test next week, when he’ll be competing against the world’s top pinball players in the International Flipper Pinball Association World Championship in Fort Myers. He’s already rated number one in the world with a personal record for longest game of 4 hours and 20 minutes with a total of 6.8 trillion points.

He says there are definitely parallels between his work forecasting the weather and playing pinball.

“I’ll notice forecast models being off, I’ll just notice just weather patterns and how they evolve. And I notice patterns in pinball as well,” he said.