Sports technology publisher SportTechie has named the Automated Ball-Strike System (ABS), which made its debut in professional baseball in York’s PeoplesBank Park, its “2019 Innovation of the Year.” The Atlantic League of Professional Baseball (ALPB) announced the award earlier today.
The Atlantic League, as part of its three-year partnership with Major League Baseball, installed TrackMan technology in each ballpark during the 2019 Championship Season. Following extensive testing, the ABS was first used to assist the home plate umpire in calling balls and strikes during the Atlantic League All-Star Game at PeoplesBank Park in York, Pa. on July 10. The first use of the ABS for all ALPB games came on July 25 in games hosted by the High Point Rockers, Lancaster Barnstormers, and Long Island Ducks.
In announcing the award, SportTechie wrote the following:
“The first pitch in last July’s Atlantic League All-Star Game (a strike) was one small call for ‘robots’ but a giant leap for baseball. For more than two decades, there has been clamor for automation to standardize umpires’ personal and seemingly whimsical interpretations of the strike zone.
While Major League Baseball has used camera and radar systems to evaluate umpire performance since 2001, the league finally took action in 2019 to use technology to call balls and strikes. The Automated Ball-Strike System first appeared in the independent Atlantic League as part of an experimental partnership with MLB, and it was later used at one ballpark in the Arizona Fall League, a showcase circuit for top prospects in the minors.
For its successful introduction and groundbreaking potential to transform the governance of baseball’s most fundamental interaction, the Automated Ball Strike system wins SportTechie’s Award for Outstanding Innovation in 2019.”
ALPB President Rick White called the award the very satisfying result of work throughout ALPB and with MLB partners.
“SportTechie is the definitive outlet for technological advancements in sports,” White said. “For this major element of our partnership with Major League Baseball to be honored is a significant highlight in an already highlight-filled endeavor. We couldn’t be prouder to be contributing to award-winning breakthroughs in our industry and the great American pastime.”