This Sunday, ESPN will televise the first-ever Major League Baseball game from a U.S. military base. The newly constructed 12,500-seat stadium at Fort Bragg in North Carolina will play host to the Miami Marlins and Atlanta Braves over the July Fourth weekend on Sunday Night Baseball.
The ESPN Features Unit has produced multiple segments for Sunday’s special MLB game at Fort Bragg that highlight those who serve our country. One feature is focused on West Point graduate and 2nd Lieutenant Alex Robinett. The pitcher was drafted by the New York Yankees organization in 2015, but instead of adjusting his years of service to play professional baseball, he decided to fulfill his commitment and continue active duty (see the full trailer above).
ESPN feature producer Kris Schwartz, who is producing the story, spoke with Front Row about his experience with the project and Lt. Robinett.
How did ESPN learn of Lt. Robinett’s story?
Baseball Tonight coordinating producer Fernando Lopez found the story weeks ago. He collaborated with Fort Bragg spokesperson Christina Douglas in order to set everything up for us.
What was your involvement with the feature?
I was assigned to produce the feature. ESPN post producer Aimee Stokes [see sidebar] had already booked videographers Matt Knapp and Bob O’Reilly to film scenics at Fort Bragg for the tease of the Sunday Night Baseball game and other elements of our coverage. So reporter Greg Garber and I met the crew earlier and we spent the day filming with Lieutenant Robinett and members of the 82nd Airborne Division. Over the next few days, our in-house Avid edit team of Leon Belt, Rob Labay and Normando Delgado did a terrific job of putting it all together.
What was your experience like at Fort Bragg with Robinett?
The soldiers and staff were extremely welcoming and very appreciative of us filming this particular story that highlights Lt. Robinett’s commitment to his country. They allowed us incredible access, particularly with the Army’s field artillery unit firing 155mm artillery rounds from a large Howitzer that can reach up to 18 miles. It was the first time I’d ever been fitted for an advanced combat helmet and outer tactical vest.
How does this feature differ from others you’ve worked on?
We meet so many athletes who are trying their hardest to make it to the professional level, and here is someone who has that opportunity, and is giving it up in order to protect us all. It’s incredibly inspiring.