This article was written by Dusty Baker
This article was published in The National Pastime: The Future According to Baseball (2021)
Editor’s note: This article is a fictional press release from our special issue of The National Pastime looking ahead to the future of baseball in the 21st century.
Baseball fans are about to enter a new level of the in-game fan experience. With Opening Day two months away, Major League Baseball announced it will implement stations dedicated to augmented reality (AR) gambling in all 32 big league parks.
It is the first major advance in real-time fan interaction since 2028 when augmented reality pitch sensors were installed at Dodger Stadium and Yankee Stadium. Four years later, fans in the stands will be able to not only view the game from the perspective of a hitter or a pitcher, they can now bet on where a pitch will be located, whether a hitter will swing, and where the ball will go if contact is made.
SIE Worldwide Studios President Hermen Hulst said, “After consulting with augmented reality professionals, we decided to partner with MLB to bring a similar experience into the ballpark to the one our own game, ‘MLB: The Show,’ brings to fans at home every day. The pitch tracking mechanism we established years ago as a way for the game-player to make better contact based on guessing the correct pitch is now being implemented in a real life version of the game with augmented reality.”
MLB Commissioner Scarlett Anderson said, “We’ve been working to find ways of bringing fans closer to the action each year. Giving them a chance to view the game from the lens of a player in 2028 was a huge step in the right direction. Now, they can place bets based on a real time educated guess on what they see. Hitters take educated guesses on pitches thrown their way; now fans can do the same and the savvy ones may benefit financially.”
Following the legalization of sports betting in all 50 states in 2027, the MLB has looked for ways to give fans more opportunities to place bets at the ballpark and at home.
The technology for this “real life betting video game,” as Anderson calls it, will be free for all ticket-holders to access at all 32 MLB ballparks via multiple kiosks stationed around the parks. For fans at home, the technology can be accessed on their smartphones and head-mounted displays with an upgrade of $39.99 per month to their MLB.TV subscription.
While the popular virtual reality application “Life in Color” offers a similar experience of the ability for a user to witness a location in 360 degrees, MLB has chosen not to partner with LIC and instead will exclusively use the SIE Worldwide Studios sensors for realtime VR and AR access to games. Familiarity with the video game “MLB: The Show” should ensure many users a smooth transition to adopting the new in-game wagering features.
DUSTY BAKER was born to love the game of baseball after being named after the player and manager. Baker began his journey in the sports world as an Athletic Ambassador for the TCU Football program while he was a student at the university. After his graduation, Baker took over as a Sports Anchor and Reporter for KTAB and KRBC in Abilene, Texas, for three years where he covered the Texas Rangers and the 2020 MLB Postseason. Baker is currently a Sports Anchor and Reporter in San Luis Obispo for KSBY.