SAN DIEGO — Major League Baseball has always been hesitant to change but as technology and sports continue to collide, MLB has begun to adapt.
One of the more significant innovations to take place recently is PitchCom. A device that is attempting to change one of the oldest traditions in all of sports.
"They've been doing finger signs for 150 years." said co-inventor and co-owner of PitchCom, John Hankins, who knows the significance of his new creation.
Hankins, a San Diego resident, has been a patent attorney, electrical engineer, mentalist and most importantly a baseball fan.
His history of work and love for sports makes the perfect storm for creating PitchCom.
John's business partner Craig Filicetti also practiced mentalism, which would play a large factor in giving them their idea.
"On stage, we communicate with covert signals both sound cues, as well as other secret signals,"
It was this nonverbal communication and control of that nonverbal communication that created the spark to John and Craig's PitchCom invention.
By pressing buttons on a transmitter worn by the catcher, an encrypted signal gets sent to the pitcher on the mound and three other fielders. That message is then decrypted at the receivers worn in the pitcher and fielder's hats. The message comes out of a speaker and says something like, "Fastball, high and outside - Or slider low and inside."
"The transmitter has nine buttons. So, you can call any pitch any location or any running game signal,"
PitchCom was born after the Astros sign stealing scandal in 2017.
"Sign stealing is not limited to the Houston Astros, but sign stealing with the Houston Astros became big. And that's when I got inspired. I thought that I could combine all those talents and those interests to make something that would prevent sign stealing,"
Not only will those teams that elect to use PitchCom protect themselves from sign stealing but it will likely pick up the pace of play. Something MLB has been attempting to do for years now.
Hankins says 27 of the 30 Major League teams are now using their device. He also says he could see the technology transcending baseball into other leagues.
"Imagine all 11 players hearing it (a play call) at once, a quarterback walking up using a transmitter and sending an audible to all 11 players,"