Though baseball is known as the official American sport, its popularity has declined in recent years. Games take too long, lack thrills, and there’s little to immerse fans in the action on the field. However, the MLB has taken strides to change this, bringing how fans interact with baseball to a more modern experience.
One way the MLB has done this is through embracing technology like drones. On August 21, 2021, the Chicago White Sox and the New York Yankees faced off at the site of the beloved Kevin Costner film, Field of Dreams. The game started with the players emerging from the cornfields surrounding the baseball diamond, just like in the film. But before the game started, the MLB enticed fans by releasing a preview video of the location captured by a drone. In a partnership with T-Mobile and the Drone Racing League, using the Magenta 5G enabled drone, a captivating flyover of the site brought the Field of Dreams site to life. A few weeks later, California’s Oakland A’s hosted New York’s Yankees at Ring Central Stadium. After the twilight game, the MLB put on the league’s first ever drone light show orchestrated by Sky Elements based out of Fort Worth, TX.
For the drone show at Ring Central Stadium, 200 drones lit up the night sky accompanied by coordinating music. The theme of the show, one that is a fan favorite for special MLB events, was Star Wars. In a statement from Sky Elements, they said, “The Sky Elements team had a blast creating this drone show and ran with the concept of Star Wars and baseball, displaying the similarities between the two. Lightsabers turning into baseball bats, and a baseball turning into the Death Star are among some of the creative ideas that play out in the sky above Ring Central Stadium. Of course we had to start the show off with the Star Wars logo rising up from behind the stadium to start the show.”
Capitalizing on the positive response from the Field of Dreams game and the A’s drone light show, the MLB decided to embrace drones in yet another way for the 2022 season. Looking to be innovative in how baseball games are broadcast for viewers on television, the MLB began testing the use of drones on the field, during a live game. The trials took place during two college level games. A DJI Inspire II was piloted by one person while another observed and coordinated through a monitor. The drone was used to get up close to the players, following them around the bases, rather than just being used for aerial filler images.
“Our plan is to do more than just get beauty shots,” Chris Pfeiffer, senior coordinating producer of live events for the MLB Network explained. “That’ll be part of the plan, but the main reason we are out here is to use the drone to help in coverage of a baseball game. If there’s a home run, that drone is leaving its perch and following the batter around the bases. It will be over the field during action. We’ll be getting really cool shots while it’s out there. I’m not sure you’ve seen anything like that in a baseball game. We are really excited for this.” The opening day of the 2022 MLB season has yet to be announced due to a lockout postponement. But when it is, fans can look forward to drones being there to make America’s pastime more immersive than ever.