MLB To Start Instant-Replay Review of Home Runs

By Andrew Lippe

Major League Baseball has implemented instant-replay in order to resolve disputed home-run calls — deciding whether a home-run ball is fair or foul, whether it has left the playing field, or whether it has been subject to fan interference. The decision to use instant replay will be made by the umpire crew chief at each game.

In each of the 30 MLB ballparks, a replay box has been installed and features a Sharp TV monitor along with a secure telephone link to Major League Baseball Advanced Media (MLB.com) headquarters in New York, where approximately 18 sets of eyes will be looking at replay incidents. “We recognize that we could go through hopefully few growing pains,” says Pat Courtney, VP of public relations for MLB, “but it is a system that we feel will be very useful.”

MLB commissioner Bud Selig commented in the official press conference announcing instant replay that he believes it is in the sport’s best interest to wire every ballpark for the technology.

Major League Baseball demonstrated instant-replay review to the press on Wednesday in the MLB.com office, using a feed from PNC Park in Pittsburgh and showing how it would be transferred back to the umpire in the ballpark. MLB debuted in three ballparks on Thursday: McAfee Coliseum, Oakland, CA; Angel Stadium, Anaheim, CA; and Wrigley Field, Chicago. The technology was not used during any of the games. Instant replay will be available to all teams starting tonight.

“Given each individual ballpark and where these umpire rooms are located, instant-replay boxes are in a variety of spaces,” says Courtney. All are in close proximity to the field.

Determining that instant-replay review is appropriate, the crew chief will call the MLB.com technician, who will transmit the most appropriate video footage to the crew chief and the umpire crew on-site.

“You could have as many as three or four feeds from a game depending on the number of networks televising that game,” Courtney says. “The goal is to have an instant-replay decision in about 2½ minutes. We haven’t put any parameters on it, but we want to make sure the correct call is made.”

MLB.com will take all available broadcast feeds. MLB Advanced Media will have multiple engineers looking at replays. Says Courtney, “We are so excited to get this under way.”