Behind The ScenesMLB

Go inside ESPN’s production truck during President Obama’s stadium entrance in Havana, Cuba

Phil Orlins (Joe Faraoni/ESPN Images)
Phil Orlins (Joe Faraoni/ESPN Images)

On Tuesday, March 22, ESPN televised the first Major League Baseball game from Cuba since 1999.

Using his iPhone, ESPN MLB senior coordinating producer Phil Orlins captured the moment inside ESPN’s production truck as President Barack Obama, his family and Cuban President Raul Castro entered Estadio Latinoamericano in Havana, Cuba.

Orlins, who also produced the MLB game from Cuba for ESPN in 1999, spoke with Front Row on the significance of the events this week.

On Tuesday’s game between the Tampa Bay Rays and the Cuban National Team:
I’ve had the good fortune of doing a handful of games where the President was at the game, but never experienced anything comparable to this where baseball was so at the center of the political and international story. To be there after 57 years of difficult relations and 88 years since the last U.S President has set foot in Cuba made this a completely unique combination of baseball and international politics at the same time.

On the moment in the production truck when the U.S and Cuban Presidents enter the stadium (see video):
I think that everybody knew just how unique this moment was. I don’t know if I’ve ever been in a truck that had that sense of anticipation. It was interesting the absolute sense of calm and quiet surrounding the director. Everybody was extraordinarily focused and the sense of drama and anticipation was palpable.

EDITOR’S NOTE: ESPN’s two-day, seven-game season-opening schedule begins Sunday, April 3 highlighted by the World Series rematch between the New York Mets and Kansas City Royals at 8:30 p.m. ET.

Phil Orlins in the production truck in Cuba. (Julie Sobieski/ESPN)
Phil Orlins oversees the production. (Julie Sobieski/ESPN)
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