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And here’s a breaking ball on the outside corner of the plate. It’s a borderline pitch. Is it a ball or strike? The umpire calls . . . neither.
That’s because he’s being replaced by a computer.
And Eric Byrnes.
The independent San Rafael Pacifics will use a computerized video system to call balls and strikes next Tuesday and Wednesday in their games at Albert Park in San Rafael.
They’re billed as the first professional games in which a human won’t call balls and strikes. Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt has expressed his desire for an automated strike zone.
Calls will be made by the Pitch F/X system with three cameras forming a triangular effect that judges a pitch’s trajectory and speed as it crosses the plate. Pitch F/X is used on TV broadcasts to determine a pitch’s location and also for umpires to judge their work.
Byrnes, a former A’s outfielder and proponent of an automated strike zone, will serve as the “strike zone umpire” and oversee the Pitch F/X system, a product of Fremont-based Sportvision Inc.
Byrnes has been aggressive raising money for the Pat Tillman Foundation, and this is his latest event. Byrnes’ role will be to relay the computerized balls and strikes to the teams and fans. He’ll donate $100 for every walk and strikeout - and $10,000 if he ejects a player or manager for arguing balls and strikes.
“Pat lived his life as a forward-thinking man, and I feel like the automated strike zone is a fitting way to honor his memory,” said Byrnes, who raised money for the foundation last year by playing two games for the Pacifics. “Last year’s tribute to Pat was a huge success. Making history in his name is just another way to teach the next generation about who Pat Tillman was, what he stood for, and the incredible sacrifices he made.”
Pacifics assistant GM Vinnie Longo said games with an automated strike zone wouldn’t cost umpires their jobs because an on-site review official would be necessary.
“This is an incredible opportunity for baseball as a whole,” Longo said.
The Pat Tillman Foundation provides educational scholarships to military veterans and donated more than $6 million in support since 2004.