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HomeSportsUnpredictable Voices: PitchCom Keeps Pitchers on Their Toes

Unpredictable Voices: PitchCom Keeps Pitchers on Their Toes

In Arlington during Game 3 of the ALCS, Max Scherzer prepared to pitch while receiving instructions from a Texan software engineer named Ryan Murray. Murray, a senior director of research and development for the Rangers, is responsible for providing baseball insights to help the team win their first World Series championship. He also serves as the voice of the team’s PitchCom device, which catchers use to communicate pitch and location to the pitcher. The PitchCom system was approved by MLB in 2022 to combat sign stealing and is now used by all 30 teams. Teams can choose to record their own tracks, and some have done so after realizing the device’s capabilities. However, Murray’s voice remains the one used by the Rangers.

Not every player is aware of whose voice is in their earpiece during crucial moments. Even pitchers like Andrew Heaney and Chris Stratton thought they were hearing the voice-over artist provided by PitchCom. The device plays a vital role in transmitting signals and relaying instructions during important plays in the postseason.

PitchCom co-founder John Hankins revealed that many teams request new tracks prior to the postseason. The voice-over artist records these tracks, which are then enhanced by a sound engineer in Nashville before being made available to the teams. However, some teams prefer to customize their tracks, if they can figure out how to do it.

Charlie Madden, a former player and current Red Sox bullpen catcher, took it upon himself to learn how to use the PitchCom device and customize it for the team. Madden recorded tracks using downloaded software and a microphone headset, providing concise and clear instructions for the Red Sox players.

PitchCom has four modes and a grid of nine buttons, each capable of giving different signals. Catchers can use various combinations to communicate pitch type, location, and other messages. The device is relatively simple, functioning as an mp3 player that can be connected to a computer to load tracks onto specific buttons.

While PitchCom has seen success, there have been instances of confusion and mishaps. Some pitchers have accidentally switched modes or turned off their devices, leading to errors on the field. Sticky-stuff checks have also caused issues, as the devices can fall out or be mishandled.

Fans and teams have occasionally requested a more authoritative voice for PitchCom’s standard tracks, even suggesting voices like James Earl Jones. However, a voice changer often sounds unnatural, and the Giants attempted to use a coach with a thick Boston accent for a unique touch during spring training.


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