FORT MYERS, Fla. — The Boston Red Sox tried something new Tuesday.
The club’s public address announcer at JetBlue Park announced the count in between every pitch during Tuesday’s Red Sox-Marlins spring training game. The PA announcer verbally indicated to the crowd at Fenway South whether each pitch was a ball or a strike.
The whole concept — dubbed “Call the count” — certainly is unique. While major league baseball games typically involve a lot of fan interaction, the PA announcer’s job usually involves introducing players, lineup changes, etc., while also keeping the crowd entertained between at-bats and between innings. Natural crowd noise usually dominates each at-bat.
“This ballpark doesn’t flood you with scoreboard information,” Dr. Charles Steinberg, the Red Sox’s executive vice president and senior adviser to the president/CEO, said before Tuesday’s game. “It has a relatively small video board in right-center, and the traditional scoreboard, which actually used to be at Fenway Park, takes care of you to some degree. But it’s something that’s been debated for more than a year at Fenway Park about whether we can enhance your awareness of what the count is. Because in recent years, there’s been such a greater emphasis on pitching in the count and hitting in the count, the difference between 2-0 or 3-1 vs. 0-2. So the merits of it can be debated, and they have been debated, but the one thing we haven’t done is actually try it in a test tube, and that’s what this game is today.”
Steinberg was unsure if the Red Sox will continue the experiment beyond Tuesday, but the team wanted to implement the new idea during a spring training game to get a feel for how it would impact a typical baseball ambiance.
Pitcher John Lackey was among those who didn’t like the experiment, calling it a “bad idea” after his start.