Report: Astros Executive Suggested Using Cameras to Steal Signs in 2017 Email

Kyle Newport@@KyleNewportFeatured ColumnistNovember 17, 2019

The Boston Red Sox work out at Minute Maid Park, Monday, Oct. 15, 2018, in Houston. The Red Sox are to face the Houston Astros in Game 3 of the baseball American League Championship Series, Tuesday, Oct. 16. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
Frank Franklin II/Associated Press

An unnamed Houston Astros executive emailed team scouts in August 2017 to explore ways to steal signs from opposing teams, according to The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal and Evan Drellich.

Rosenthal and Drellich obtained the email, which suggested both cameras and binoculars as potential options:

"One thing in specific we are looking for is picking up signs coming out of the dugout. What we are looking for is how much we can see, how we would log things, if we need cameras/binoculars, etc. So go to game, see what you can (or can't) do and report back your findings."

The executive also reportedly had conversations with the scout about sign-stealing outside of the email. Multiple Astros scouts were reportedly "appalled" that they could be asked to record other teams.

"Nobody wanted to do that, and take a chance of getting caught and ruining their reputation, not only as a scout but then even further damage what the Astros had going," one source told Rosenthal and Drellich.

Major League Baseball did not provide a comment to The Athletic in regard to whether scouts are permitted to use cameras. A 2017 rule, however, does not permit teams to use electronic equipment "for the purpose of stealing signs or conveying information designed to give a Club an advantage."

On Nov. 12, Rosenthal and Drellich reported Houston stole signs during games at Minute Maid Park in 2017. Former Astros pitcher Mike Fiers went on the record and said the team used cameras in the outfield to steal signs electronically.

That report said Houston used a television monitor near the team's dugout to pick up signs in real time and then would give the batter at the plate an audio cue, such as banging on a trash can, to relay the signs.

Houston won its first-ever World Series championship in 2017, going 101-61 during the regular season en route to the American League West title. The Astros went 11-7 during the 2017 postseason, including 8-1 at home.

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