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Volume 23 No. 18
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Fox scores by putting mics on All-Stars

Freddie Freeman became the first player to wear a live microphone at the plate during a game.
Photo: Getty images
Freddie Freeman became the first player to wear a live microphone at the plate during a game.
Photo: Getty images
Freddie Freeman became the first player to wear a live microphone at the plate during a game.
Photo: Getty images

During the first inning of last week’s MLB All-Star Game, National League first baseman Freddie Freeman of the Braves faced American League starting pitcher Justin Verlander of the Astros in a historic showdown. The day before the game, Fox broadcasters Joe Buck and John Smoltz had tried to talk Verlander into wearing a microphone while on the mound, but the eight-time All-Star declined. Freeman, however, accepted, and though he struck out in that at-bat, he became the first player to wear a live microphone at the plate during a game.

Later in the game, several other players also wore microphones in the field, including a simultaneous conversation between NL outfielders Christian Yelich of the Brewers and Cody Bellinger of the Dodgers. Judging by how well-received the on-field mics were by players and viewers, Buck speculated that Verlander would wear one if he starts next year’s game.

“Now that Freddie Freeman has worn one at the plate — and the earth continued to spin and the sun came up today — I think other guys will try it, too,” Buck said. “These younger guys are smart enough to know that they’re playing MLB, but they’re also individual brands. They’re all trying to promote their own brand.” 

Last week’s MLB All-Star Game, a 4-3 AL win, was not the first time that miked up players talked with broadcasters in the middle of a game. Fox had then-Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper wear a microphone during the 2017 All-Star Game in Miami, and ESPN started putting microphones on Red Sox players during spring training games last year and continued to do so this year. But Fox’s effort at the All-Star Game was the most comprehensive use of the technology by far.

Fox did not use a longer delay than usual to guard against foul language getting on air. A Fox spokesman said the production carried the same 5- to 10-second delays it normally does and did not have to bleep out any words.