MLB Umpires to Use On-Field Microphones to Announce Replay Review Decisions to Fans

Adam WellsApril 1, 2022

HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 26:  A general view of the field as the umpires review a play in the seventh inning during Game 1 of the 2021 World Series between the Atlanta Braves and the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park on Tuesday, October 26, 2021 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Mary DeCicco/MLB Photos via Getty Images)
Mary DeCicco/MLB Photos via Getty Images

Major League Baseball is expanding the information process of its replay-review system. 

The league announced Friday that umpires will be equipped with on-field microphones to inform the stadium crowd and television audience of an official replay decision. 

MLB Communications @MLB_PR

This season Major League Umpires will conduct in-park announcements during the Replay Review process. We’re pleased to launch this enhancement to the ballpark and broadcast experiences. Training has been held in Arizona and Florida this spring. <a href="https://t.co/vQvMXXPMjw">pic.twitter.com/vQvMXXPMjw</a>

Per ESPN's Jesse Rogers, the crew chief will go to one of the baselines and face the press box to announce who is making the challenge, what call is being challenged and what the official call is after the review is completed. 

Under the previous system, a manager would make a gesture from the dugout to initiate a challenge. Umpires would go speak with the manager to get clarification on what they wanted to challenge, and then the crew chief and another umpire would go to the video review. 

After reaching a verdict, the crew chief would gesture on the field what the call was. For instance, if a stolen base call was overturned, the umpire would simply make the safe or out signal to indicate the call. 

Detroit Tigers manager AJ Hinch told Rogers some of the umpires have been "a little uncomfortable with the mechanics of it" since they aren't accustomed to speaking directly to the crowd and press box, but he's confident they will get used to it over time. 

"I think opening up communication with the fans is a step in the right direction," Hinch said. "It'll become mainstream, very fast."

The new process will more closely resemble the NFL system with the crew chief facing the press box and hard camera to announce the call. 

MLB will officially begin deploying the new replay process during spring training games this weekend. The first game to feature the microphone system will be between the Los Angeles Dodgers and Los Angeles Angels at Angels Stadium on Sunday.