Home Run Derby A Nice Change Of Pace For ESPN Baseball Production Team
By Ken Kerschbaumer
For ESPN’s baseball production crew, the Home Run Derby next Monday is a welcome change of pace from a 26-week run of more traditional coverage of MLB action. “It’s refreshing and a nice challenge,” says Tom McShane, ESPN associate director, event operations. “It’s good to get out of the routine.” Also getting ESPN out of the routine? Producing the Derby telecast in Yankee Stadium, a ballpark more than 30 years old and the kind of older facility that typically does not host All-Star Game activities.
Adding to the challenge this year was the Yankees/Rays game that was held on Wednesday afternoon. Typically ESPN moves in a full week ahead of the activities but due to the MLB schedule they lost three days. Toss in a game that went an extra inning and ESPN staff were waiting patiently for the parking lot to clear out.
“Trucks and trailers started rolling in after 7 p.m.,” says McShane. “There was also a downpour that could have delayed things and our group got soaking wet.”
After setting up for the Derby in newly minted stadiums ESPN had to kick it old school in the House that Ruth Built. “Cable and space wise it’s more of a challenge,” adds McShane. More than 30,000 feet of cable, both fiber and copper, was laid and more than 300 cable ramps were used.
“We are using the ‘Pope Fly’ cable run which was used for the Pope’s recent visit,” says McShane. “Fiber was run up to the roof and then dropped down to the truck compound. It saved a lot of time, work and heartache.”
Adding to the challenge is that the Home Run Derby has some fresh camera angles designed to capture the massive moonshots launched by the players. Two upper tier camera positions in left field and another one in right field required additional cable runs.
And then there is the compound challenge. The Yankee Stadium compound can be crowded during a regular season Yankee game with the YES Network, a visiting network, and NHK on site. But the All-Star Game? That is a headache unto itself.
“In fact, we’re using stackable office trailers because the truck compound has us, MLB, Fox Sports, MLB International, and NHK.” The trailers are 10×40 feet and while stackable units are common in Europe they are a rarity in the U.S.
NEP SuperShooter 25 A&B will be on hand for production of the Derby as well as Sunday’s Future’s Game and the Legends & Celebrity Softball Game that will be carried live on ESPN360 and on tape on ESPN following the Derby on Monday night. NEP SS17 will handle Baseball Tonight and Sportscenter while NCP II is on hand for ESPN Deportes.
A total of 35 cameras will be on hand for ESPN, including 24 dedicated to the Home Run Derby (that includes eight hard cameras, one Super SloMo, one Inertia Unlimited Super SloMo, six hand-held cameras, four Fletcher robotic cameras, three RF cameras from CP Communications and Total RF and an HD shot from the Goodyear blimp). Six cameras are also on hand for ESPN Deportes and five more for Baseball Tonight/Sportscenter.
As for unique camera position keep an eye out for shots from the last row of the upper deck in left field of the NYC skyline, camera positions short of each foul pole that required a special platform to be built, and an RF camera roaming the outfield tracking balls as they’re blasted out of the park.