More ESPN Innovation: “Sunday Night Baseball” has First “Mic’d Up” Catcher for In-Game Conversation
In addition to Houston Astros star Martín Maldonado offering viewers a unique catcher’s perspective, ESPN’s MLB production team paired the conversation with another one of its innovations – UmpCam
ESPN Sunday Night Baseball continues to serve as a hub of innovation and imagination as it drives the Major League Baseball viewing experience forward.
On the April 16 edition of the telecast – The Lone Star Series: Texas Rangers versus Houston Astros – ESPN delivered yet another first.
Astros catcher Martín Maldonado was the subject of Sunday Night Baseball’s latest mic’d up, in-game player conversation. It marked the first time a catcher has been mic’d up for a live chat while playing in a regular-season game. The advent of regular season in-game player conversations began with ESPN.
In addition to Maldonado offering viewers a unique catcher’s perspective, ESPN’s MLB production team paired the conversation with another one of its innovations – UmpCam – which made its return this season after its debut in 2002.
Astros' Martín Maldonado mic'd up: Pitch clock, Framber Valdez and more #Astros #AstrosNation #CrushCity https://t.co/MEGwFZFTee
— Houston Astros Fans (@AstrosSupport) April 17, 2023
In the clip above, KayRod Cast’s Michael Kay, who was hosting the alternate presentation with Alex Rodriguez on ESPN2, kicked to the traditional Sunday Night Baseball broadcast team of Karl Ravech, David Cone, Eduardo Perez and Buster Olney for the chat with Maldonado while UmpCam was being utilized. It made for a compelling visual experience for baseball fans.
Perez, who has played an integral role in securing players for in-game conversations, reflected on the broadcast team’s conversation with Maldonado. “It was a great insight and a sneak peek into what an MLB catcher thinks, prepares, and does during an MLB game. It was awesome!”
After Maldonado wore the microphone in the top of the second inning, he chatted with Ravech in the bottom half of the inning from the dugout about his experience (see clip in sidebar): “You know, talking to you guys is always fun.”
Jacobson: “The groundbreaking access we had last night with having a catcher mic’d up and talking to our announcers during a half inning behind the plate provided a unique perspective. While we made a concerted effort to be more voyeuristic last night as it relates to our in-game player conversations – listening and observing more than truly conversing back and forth – we found spots to ask Maldonado about all that he has on his plate when catching a game: From managing pitchers and their emotions to game-planning and calling specific pitches, to even chatting with umpires and opposing players. And then, pairing his words with views from UmpCam helped give viewers that feeling of being behind home plate and seeing the game the way Maldonado sees it.”