PitchCom The latest technology boom in Major League BaseballHowever, there is nothing in Jack McKeon for pitch signaling equipment.
60 years ago PitchCom has advanced to MLB, McKeon adopted his own electronic communication system. As the manager of the Vancouver Triple A Club in the Minnesota Twins in 1962, McKeon spoke directly to the pitcher using a radio-like transmitter from Dougout.
Each pitcher had a small receiver in his shirt pocket.
“I was just a few years ahead of these guys,” McKeon joked in an interview with Palm Beach Post this week. “It worked. I had a good time. In every town we went to, the headline of the sports page was like” The team from space is in town! “. Something like that. “
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McKeon, now 91, is 70 years old in professional baseball.Beloved in South Florida Marlins In the 2003 World Series title, McKeon is now a special assistant to the Washington Nationals.
Since the Houston Astros sign stealing scandal in 2017, sign delivery has been a hot topic in Major League Baseball. This season, all 30 MLB teams will have the option to use PitchCom’s pitch call technology.
Designed to prevent sign theft and speed up the game.
How does PitchCom, an electronic pitch call, work?
How it works is that the catcher wears a transmitter with 9 buttons. The device lists pitch types (fastballs, curves, sliders, changeups, etc.) and locations. The pitcher hears the choice through a small receiver embedded in the cap. Center fielders and center fielders are also wired.
The system was tested on a single A-ball in 2021 and was approved by the MLB Players Association this year. PitchCom replaces the old-fashioned way the catcher blinks the sign with your finger.
This concept is not far from McKeon’s radio receiver system 60 years ago. In July 1962, McKeon came up with a unique way to electronically relay his signature to his pitcher.
“Vancouver played Spokane, the Dodgers’ second army,” McKeon said. “It was under the control of Preston Gomez. He squeezed. I recognized it and signaled the pitcher to ask for a pitchout. He didn’t. The man bunted and Thai Ingran scored. “
With tremendous momentum, McKeon changed his pitch with a victory on third base. McKeon expected another squeeze and told the relief to throw four straight pitchouts.
He didn’t listen.
“First pitch, strike 1” recalls McKeon. “On the next pitch, he bunt squeezes and we lose.”
After the game, flashy McKeon asks two beat reporters if they know anyone who can help him.
“I said,’Can you wire these guys because you know who they are?'” McKeon said.
An older veteran reporter was more interested in meeting the deadline and left after asking a question. A young reporter who worked in the afternoon newspaper and missed the deadline told McKeon that his neighbor was an electronic engineer.
A few days later they met. “At that time, I was going to wire the catcher and put the receiver in my pocket,” McKeon said. “The man said,’Let me think about this.'”
About a week later, he brought me a small piece of wood about the size of a camel pack. [cigarettes].. He said, I could make you a receiver about this, so you could talk to the pitcher. I said, “great.” “”
Radio transmitter cleared by the Pacific Coast League
McKeon cleared everything through the Pacific Coast League and he tested it with his staff pitcher and future manager, the late George Bamberger. Bamberger was scheduled to start Game 2 with a doubleheader the next day.
Hopefully they will be wired for the game. But first, they had to see if it worked.
“So what happens is that after dinner we went to the ballpark that night to test it,” McKeon said. “They had these guard dogs. When we entered, these dogs were ready to attack us.”
They jumped out of the park to avoid the dog and needed a backup plan. In the dark, they headed for the mountainous area behind the stadium.
“I got a flashlight, and I told Bambi, you go ahead and walk towards the mountains, and I talk to you,” McKeon said. “If you receive, you flash me. He did. That’s the way we knew it would work.”
The next night, Bamberger pitches his second game, and McKeon talks to him from Dougout.
“So Bambi goes out by wire,” McKeon said. “Most of my players don’t know. I’m sitting at a bargain, which looks like a little hand radio talking to Bambi. These guys don’t know what’s going on. Hmm. Tell Bambi when to throw first. You’ll say, “Don’t look, I’ll tell you when to throw to the base.” “”
The next day, the story is big news in Canada. Television stations and reporters will begin to follow the club more closely.
“The point was that I wanted to use it as an educational tool rather than giving it a sign,” McKeon said. “So the veteran pitcher he was in, Bamberger, was able to talk to the mound pitcher in certain circumstances (when he wasn’t pitching).”
McKeon used it throughout the 1962 season and has since been relegated to MLB history books.
Anyone can guess how long PitchCom will exist.
As pointed out by Kansas City Royals manager Mike Matheny, some catchers take great pride in being able to hold different signature sets for each pitcher.
“I hate technology robbing someone of what they’ve really worked hard on,” said Massenny. “But with the progress of the game, and where we are now, this makes sense to me.”
Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.
MLB’s PitchCom device has its roots in the 1962 minor league.
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