How do catchers relay signals to pitchers? How does PitchCom work?
Stealing signs in the MLB has been a big part of baseball, but now the league has digitized players experience with a new electronic device
For over a century, catchers have relayed signs in the MLB to pitchers through a sequence of finger movements.
But after the Houston Astros’ sign-stealing scandal in 2017, and five years of sign-stealing being in the spotlight, the league has found a way to put an end to it.
It’s called PitchCom.
New technology in the MLB
Invented by John Hankins and Craig Filcetti, PitchCom is an electronic device used to transmit pitch signals from the catcher to the pitcher. It is just starting to be adopted in Major League Baseball this season, and many teams are already embracing the new technology.
PitchCom provides a remote control that hugs backstops’ wrists, and a speaker in pitchers’ hats that vocalizes the signals, to potentially further protect against sign-stealing. The official website describes the device as a “player-wearable transmitter that allows players on the field to communicate plays to each other without using physical signs or verbal communication.”
Catchers are now able to press a button on the device which relays an audio signal straight to the pitcher’s hat. The pitchers, on the other side, hear something like “high fastball” or “low curveball”.
Other benefits of PitchCom
This new technology also allows players to effectively communicate with one another without the other team having a chance to steal signs like before. It can also be programmed in other languages, which is a huge plus for many foreign players with communication issues. Additionally, the PitchCom device allows other players on the field like the shortstop to listen in on the selected pitch.
Where there is satisfaction, there is criticism
While another benefit of the device is that it is believed to speed up the game, this is also one of its cons. Some players, like Atlanta Braves Travis D’Arnaud, are not fans of the new device specifically because it “rushes the game” as the rapid audio relay from the catcher to the pitcher eliminates any confusion with hand signals.
But while the device might not be everyone’s favorite new thing, it is bringing professional baseball one step closer to combatting a problem long overdue.