NEW YORK – For baseball fans of all ages, stepping into the offices of MLB Advanced Media might make you feel as if you’ve entered hardball heaven.

Everywhere you turn, baseball is front and center, from the banks of TVs displaying the day’s games, to bobbleheads of every shape and size. America’s pastime is alive and well at this bustling spot in Chelsea Market that was once home to a cookie factory and is now the headquarters of arguably one of the biggest tech startups in recent years.

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Everyone who works there wears their enthusiasm for the game on their sleeves – sometimes literally.

“I love baseball to death, as you can see,” says Arturo Pardavila, vice president, branded content at MLBAM, while showing off his baseball tattoos. “We have people here who are really passionate about it, really into it. And they spin from fan mode to work mode, just like that.”

“Our job is to give fans meaningful, easy, intuitive access to consume baseball in whatever way they want. We want to deliver an experience where fans say, ‘Wow, that was really cool!’ And to do that, we have to overdeliver.”

The secret of MLBAM’s success goes far beyond baseball and into the world of new media, where people who don’t work in a ballpark have built a cutting-edge technological powerhouse that has changed the way fans see, hear and understand every pitch, out and home run. 

“Our job is to give fans meaningful, easy, intuitive access to consume baseball in whatever way they want,” says Matthew Gould, vice president of corporate communications, MLBAM. “We want to deliver an experience where fans say, ‘Wow, that was really cool!’ And to do that, we have to over-deliver.”

On a Thursday afternoon in the heart of the baseball season, you might not even think about the games underway while you’re at work. But at MLBAM, every single pitch is vitally important to the process of disseminating information to fans around the globe.

“You have to think on the fly pretty quick. Fans get to watch the game from the comfort of their own home or wherever they are, and they don’t realize there’s a lot behind the curtain. It might seem easy, but it’s a lot harder than it actually sounds."

Situated in front of a complex computer and display setup are what MLBAM calls “loggers,” employees who track and record each pitch into a system for viewers monitoring games on MLB.com, in addition to taking note of highlights and monitoring commercial breaks. On nights with a full slate of games, that means 15 matchups all happening at once, leading to a cacophony of baseball.

“You have to think on the fly pretty quick,” says logger Anthony Randazzo. “Fans get to watch the game from the comfort of their own home or wherever they are, and they don’t realize there’s a lot behind the curtain. It might seem easy, but it’s a lot harder than it actually sounds.”

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Baseball At Your Fingertips

Less than 20 years ago, no one could have imagined the concept of having baseball at your fingertips, but MLBAM was formed in 2000 when club owners floated the idea of having a centralized company. MLB.com launched in 2001, and from there, forward-looking executives kept baseball at the forefront of the latest advances, from streaming video to smartphone apps to digital partnerships like the one MLB recently signed with Coca-Cola.

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“Our job is to put baseball on every screen,” Gould says. “We’re trying to replicate the TV experience on 400 different devices.”

At MLBAM, you can see the process in action. The production floor features 72 workstations, with employees creating graphics, logos, video highlights, packages and just about any visual element you can imagine.

“Our job is to put baseball on every screen. We’re trying to replicate the TV experience on 400 different devices.”

“It’s a great challenge,” says Brett Kaplan, director of multimedia. “Everybody here is a fan in their own right, and knowing that you’re producing content for fans, you want to get it in their hands quickly and get them the best product possible. It’s a source of pride. It’s worth making the extra revision on an edit, or trying to find the perfect shot.”

As social media has exploded, MLB has been right there to capture every viral moment. The team at MLB is on call 24/7 to bring the best highlights, GIFs, pictures and tweets to fans mere seconds after a memorable moment happens.

“There’s never a dull moment,” Pardavila says.

MLBAM houses one of the huge data centers that helps synthesize the voluminous amount of statistics produced through tracking the approximately 750,000 pitches thrown per year. It’s home to a massive transmission center that streams baseball and a host of other video products, covering sports and entertainment. And there you’ll also find the MLB Replay Operations Center, where the company’s video tech supports the instant replay implementation and where umpires come to work during games to review calls and manager challenges.

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And while MLBAM has been successful beyond the wildest dreams of the owners who initially committed $120 million to get the tech startup off the ground, the company has no interest in resting on its laurels, working hard to discover the next piece of tech that will help baseball fans get even further enjoyment out of the sport they love.

“That’s what makes the content authentic,” Gould says. “It is coming from people who love the game and who are drawn into the narrative. This is a tech company. There’s a lot of (research and development) that goes on here. We’re continuing to push the envelope.”