MLB Network

Last month I visited the Office of the Commissioner of Major League Baseball and took a bunch of photos for this blog. Remember? Well, after my meeting there, I was invited to visit the MLB Network headquarters in Secaucus, New Jersey — and once again I was allowed to bring my camera.

Here what the outside of the building looks like:

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Here’s the view from just inside the glass doors:

2_mlb_network_entrance.jpg

(FYI: The MLB Network is not open to the public. You can’t just show up and ask to have a look around. That said, the security guard at the front desk told me that random people drop by every day and try to talk their way inside. But anyway…)

As soon as I arrived, I was escorted down a hallway and through the following doors:

3_jackie_robinson_doorway.jpg

As soon as the doors closed behind me, I ran into two guys who had each played in the Major Leagues for more than a decade: Harold Reynolds and Tony Clark. They just happened to be harold_reynolds.jpgheading into a meeting and were walking toward me from the opposite direction. They stopped and said hello to the MLB representative who was showing me around, and then I was introduced to them.

“This is Zack Hample.” Pause. “Zack is…” Another pause.

I wasn’t sure if the gentleman from MLB was searching for the right words or if he was simply waiting for me to take the lead, so I jumped in and said, “Basically, I’m the guy who’s caught more baseballs in the stands at major league games than anyone.”

“How many?” asked the 6-foot-7 Clark.

tony_clark_diamondbacks.jpg
“Well,” I said, “including all the balls I’ve snagged during batting practice, over 4,300.”

Reynolds and Clark were shocked. I thought there was a chance that they didn’t even believe me so I pulled out my wallet and showed them the bathtub photo and told them that this was only one-fifth of my collection.

“You’re a sick man,” said Reynolds with a grin.

“Thank you,” I replied. “I’ll take that as a compliment.” Then I turned to Clark and said, “Now, I don’t want you to take this the wrong way — I don’t want you to feel used or anything — but you actually contributed to my collection by tossing me a ball a few years ago.”

“Where was that?” he asked, so I told him that he’d flipped me a 3rd-out ball while jogging off the field late in a game at Chase Field in 2007. “I got 21 balls that day,” I said. Clark just shook his head and laughed.

He and Reynolds had to make it to their meeting, so we all shook hands and parted ways, and my tour continued in THE main studio:

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It was silent in the studio. Most of the lights were off. There were no other people. It was surreal. I couldn’t believe that I was standing there — twenty minutes earlier I’d been riding a dingy bus from the NJ Transit station — and now all of a sudden here I was, getting another behind-the-scenes glimpse at the world of Major League Baseball. I was so excited…so energized…I just wanted to run and around and shriek…but I held it all together and settled for taking a few more photos.

Here’s the side desk:

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In the photo above, do you see the staircase in the background? Here’s what it looks like at the top:

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Here’s another look at the darkened studio:

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Do you see the big MLB logo into the background?

That’s actually the entrance to the studio.

Here I am inside the logo:

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Wow.
Okay.
Moving on…

This is where most of the video editing takes place:

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Here’s another area where that work is also done:

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Do you remember the autographed walls in my behind-the-scenes entry from my recent appearance on “The Tonight Show”? The MLB Network also has an area of autographs, except it’s waaay cooler because all the autographs were written by baseball players. Here’s a photo of the walls:

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How many of the autographs can you identify?

Here’s another photo…

…and another:

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Here’s my favorite:

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In my opinion, one of the best things about the MLB Network is that there’s a huge studio called MLB Park. Basically, it’s a small replica of a field where the analysts are often filmed recreating plays and teaching fundamentals. Check it out:

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Look how realistic the dugouts are:

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Here’s a view of the outfield wall and the scoreboard and the bleachers:

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Gorgeous:

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While I was wandering around with my camera, most of the lights in MLB Park were abruptly shut off, and a very large camera was wheeled across the infield, just in front off the mound. The network was getting ready to tape a segment in there, so I had to head out, but first I crouched down behind the plate (outside pitch to Albert Pujols) and took one final photo:

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And there you have it.

I’ll admit that I was a bit slow to tune in when the MLB Network first launched on January 1st — I didn’t even know that I had it as part of my Time Warner cable package — but I’ve been watching it religiously since the All-Star break. If you’re not sure if you have the network in your home, click here and type your zip code into the “channel locator.”

13 Comments

1) Amazing, amazing, amazing!!!
2) Tony Clark has you pegged–you are a sick puppy
3) Without going through all the autographs, was that Jim Bouton of Ball Four fame? If so, very cool.
4) Will the Islanders be eliminated from the 2010 playoffs before the 2009 baseball season ends?

I love watching the show Diamond Demos on MLB Network just to see that field. The scoreboard and dugout look awesome. What did the field feel like? Was it carpet?

-Jonathan

Wow. This is by far the coolest entry I have ever seen (no offense to the ballhawkers). It probably is because my dream is to be on MLB Network or SportsCenter or something like that. This is so cool!
-Ellie
http://mrmetbro.blogspot.com

Very cool pics of the studio. Did they say why they settled in Secaucus, NJ?
FATHERPUCK-
I think the real question is if the Islanders will be eliminated from Long Island in 2010. I hate hearing relocation rumors; we have too many of them in Atlanta.

Very cool of the MLB peeps to show you around. You are the MAN, Z.

So cool that you got to check out the studios!I have been watching MLB network since the beginning. It started in the offseason, so it was a bit slow, but since the season started, I watch their show instead of Baseball tonight. I LOVE the fact that they have old players hosting the show… I feel like they have a better sense of the game. I also think their coverage of the day’s games are much less biased than ESPN… The best part though, is that down the stretch they broadcasted at least one game from EVERY important series. I didn’t feel like I was missing anything around the league!
Also, Zack when are we gonna hear about BP in Pittsburgh?? Im so excited for that post!–Ethan

Dude….

Nice behind the scenes pics. Isn’t Tony Clark huge? He’s like 6’7″ tall! I got a bunch of balls from him two years ago when he was in SD. He used to hit bombs to the beach. He’s really good about hooking it up. MLB Network is so much better than ESPN now (Or is it NESN?). I always get confused because they both talk about the Red Sox so much. Is you want to know about the Yankees, Mets or Red Sox watch ESPN. If you want to know about the rest of the league, watch MLB Network. You should have taken a pic with the guys for your post. Going to ALCS Game 4 on Tuesday. Take it easy….

Leigh

Cool stuff Zack. Just came across MLB Network a month ago while channel surfing, been a fan ever since. That logo studio entry way is awesome. Thanks again for sharing your growing insights into MLB.
My kid would kill to play some wiffle ball at MLB Park.
….gus

Zack, I love your blog, all the great places you get into with your camera! Thanks for the behind the scenes look at the MLB Network, that’s pretty cool.

EVERYONE-
Sorry for being out of touch. I’m still trying to catch up on life. To answer your questions…

FATHER PUCK-
1) Thanks.
2) It was actually Reynolds who said that.
3) I still haven’t gone through them all myself.
4) Umm…

JONATHAN-
Yup, just a nice clean rug.

BRAVES04-
Lots of networks are located in Secaucus, NJ. There’s a lot of space. Everything in NYC is cramped and expensive.

ETHAN-
Unless something major and unexpected happens in the VERY near future, my Pittsburgh entry should be coming up next…probably some time this weekend.

LEIGH-
Clark is a monster. Funny about ESPN/NESN.

Once again. My tv teacher would pass out if he got to see the editing equipment of mlb network.

WHEN ARE YOU GONNA POST THE BP ENTRY !??!??!

Hey zack. Is the outfield bleachers at mlb park real? like are they real seats?

Nick

GOISLANDERS4-
Oops. I’m three years late.

NICK-
Yup, real seats.

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