Welcome to the future, baseball fans.
History was made at an independent league baseball game in San Rafael on Tuesday night. Reporter Cyrus Farivar checks in for Ars Technica:
On a picturesque evening in Marin County just north of San Francisco, the San Rafael Pacifics faced off against the Vallejo Admirals in what was billed as the first professional baseball game to be called by a piece of technology rather than a person. In this minor league showdown, the role of the balls-and-strikes umpire was played by a mounted three-camera tracking setup synced with a computer. (Two of the cameras are mounted at each end of the upper corner of the grandstands behind the plate; the third sits in center field.) Together, the devices comprise a system better known by its commercial moniker: Pitchf/x. It was soon dubbed #RoboUmp on Twitter.
But is "The Debut of the Automatic Umpire," as the event is being called, more minor league gimmick or technological breakthrough for the great American pastime?
For starters, RoboUmp isn’t going to replace #HumanUmps anytime soon. A league-standard two (human) umpires still worked the game — a home plate umpire was still needed to call fair and foul balls and plays at the plate.
In fact, the robotic system still relies on a living, breathing human to actually verbalize balls and "striiiiikes." Last night, that voice was provided by former A’s (and Rockies, Diamondbacks, Orioles and Mariners) outfielder Eric Byrnes, who has taken on RoboUmp as “essentially a passion project,” according to Ars.