4pm Oct. 14: Updates with comment from T-Mobile
A bullpen cop at Fenway Park became an instant sensation last night. Veteran Boston policeman Steve Horgan was standing in the frame when a game-tying home run ball off the bat of David Ortiz flew over the bullpen fence, followed closely by Tigers outfielder Torii Hunter. Horgan raised his arms in joy as Hunter toppled head over heals, making for an image you can probably already buy in souvenir shops on Yawkey Way.
The stills of Horgan and Hunter are deliciously old fashioned. There is a Nikon ad hanging on the fence in the foreground, but otherwise precious little advertising or other indication of what decade we are in. Along the bullpen wall behind Horgan sags a set of wires. Looking at them, I was reminded of T-Mobile’s announcement in January that it had partnered with MLB to replace traditional bullpen land-line phones with wireless Samsung Electronics (005930:KS) handsets, at least in ballparks that wanted them. Wouldn’t T-Mobile (TMUS) have loved to be a part of this moment?
As I wrote at the time, the plan seemed like a complicated reinvention of the existing system for the sake of product placement. The league insisted that the new system represented an improvement. “Now the bullpen coach can be talking to the pitching coach while he’s standing right behind the pitcher,” MLB’s senior vice-president for standards and on-field operations, Joe Garagiola Jr., told me.
But is anybody using them? I can’t recall seeing a single manager or coach with a Samsung Galaxy 3 to his ear. Has anybody seen the T-Mobile bullpen phone in the wild?
According to a T-Mobile spokesman, the short answer is, they’re still testing it; the company wouldn’t say where. Here’s the long version:
T-Mobile and MLB have been testing the In-Game Communications System in MLB non-game situations in several ballparks throughout the year and that testing is ongoing. As the In-Game Communication system is part of the field-of-play, T-Mobile and Major League Baseball agree that it is very important that before the technology is installed in ballparks for in-game use, the system needs to be game-ready. When the In-Game Communications System is game-ready, we will launch it in a couple of stadiums, to start. And then, we will roll it out to other ballparks from there.