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Major League Baseball 'Robot ­mp' Calls 1st Professional Baseball Game with 1 Hitch, No Controversy

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The umpire wore an earpiece through which the computer calling balls and strikes would apprise him of the call for each pitch.

For the first time, a computer officially called balls and strikes at a minor league all-star baseball game.

Credit: Julio Cortez/Associated Press

Professional baseball glimpsed its future Wednesday night, when a computer officially called balls and strikes for the first time in the game's history in the U.S. at a minor league all-star game. Major League Baseball in February inked a three-year agreement with the independent, eight-team Atlantic League to install experimental rules in line with Commissioner Rob Manfred's vision for a faster, more action-packed game.

Among the first changes discussed was an automated balls and strikes regime, run via a panel above home plate made by sports data firm Trackman. After a half-season of testing, the system was ready for the league All-Star Game, debuting with great fanfare and an unambiguous strike.

"Take pictures. Take selfies. Tell people you were here," the stadium's emcee announced before the game, telling the crowd of 6,773 they were about to witness history.

Mitch Atkins of the York Revolution threw the first pitch, a belt-high fastball on the outer half of the plate for strike one, and then the ball was sent to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y.

"The future is crazy," Long Island Ducks second baseman L.J. Mazzilli said. "It's cool to see the direction baseball is heading."


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