Each spring since 2009, the Major League Baseball (MLB) Network has batted up for its new season in Secaucus. The American sport that was born in Hoboken is broadcast internationally from this nearby baseball news station. Read on to learn about the place where all the biggest celebrities in baseball come to talk America’s favorite pastime.
Studio 21 (Photo Credit: MLB Network)
Baseball Owes New Jersey
14 years ago, in 2009, Major League Baseball became the fourth major North American professional sports league to launch its own 24-hour cable network. That MLB Network is in Secaucus, New Jersey seems only fair since the state has no professional team of its own despite the first baseball game ever played going down in Hoboken’s Elysian Fields with the Knickerbocker Club playing the New York Nine in 1896.
Even then, New Jersey was where the action happened but not the home state for the teams that played here. The first professional Jersey team was the short-lived Elizabeth Resolutes who called, you guessed it, Elizabeth, NJ their home. The team competed for exactly one season in 1873. Jersey got its first “major league” team, the Newark Peppers, in 1915 and it, too, fizzled after only one year.
What may be the most significant event in baseball history occurred in Jersey City’s Roosevelt Stadium on April 18th,1946 when Jackie Robinson bravely broke the color line of segregated baseball playing with the Montreal Royals against the Jersey City Giants in the International League, a top minor league. That game was a precursor to the civil rights movement and another tally on the list of historical reasons MLB Network belongs in New Jersey.
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Inside MLB Network
Most of the MLB Network studios are named for baseball greats. Studio 3 is much less generic a name than it might sound to the stranger to baseball. Baseball fans, however, will recognize Babe Ruth’s jersey number. Less known is the reason why he wore that number. When back-of-jersey numbers debuted, Babe Ruth was given number three because he usually batted third. Other players were given numbers according to batting order, which is why Yankee cleanup hitter Lou Gehrig wore number four. Studio 3 serves as the home for many MLB Network studio programs, including its Emmy Award-winning MLB Tonight.
Studio 42 honors Jackie Robinson, of course, Studio 42 is designed as a half-scale baseball field with a functioning scoreboard and seating for over 125 people. There, demonstrations by the network’s analysts take place, along with in-person interviews and its highlights show of record Quick Pitch.
Studio 42 (Photo Credit: MLB Network)
Studio 21 is named to honor Roberto Clemente, the first Caribbean and the first Latin-American National Baseball Hall of Fame inductee. That studio hosts the shows MLB Central and MLB Now along with the presentation of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America Awards.
Faster Paced + More Fun than Ever
This year’s baseball season has been especially exciting and bodes well for the future of the game. Major League Baseball’s new rules have worked as intended, speeding up games and having a major impact on the length of games with a typical game clocking in well under three hours this season. New innovations, like the pitch clock, acknowledge the fact that the golden age of classic baseball was a slower time and today’s fans are looking for more immediate excitement. Perhaps it is a result of the faster-paced games that has MLB’s digital audience skewing younger than in previous years.
Technology has also changed the game, Remote production capability opened up conversations amongst hosts to happen in real-time in multiple places, linking players and experts wherever they might be. With off-record career announcements, quick-response rumors, and a proliferation of baseball blogs, social media has added a whole new layer to the game. Technological innovation has also benefited the numbers part of the analysis. Baseball’s evolution from old-school game analysis to the incorporation of sabermetrics, an analysis of statistics unique to baseball, has also been incorporated throughout MLB Network’s programming.
Not Just Major League
New Jersey’s rich history of unforgettable baseball moments and legendary figures goes beyond the major league and so does MLB Network. The national baseball broadcaster is a content hub for all levels of play. Play Ball, MLB Network’s kids-focused program, airs weekly. Plus, some 8-9,000 highlights from Minor League games are edited for platforms throughout each season. The MLB Draft, MLB Draft Combine, Desert Invitational, Andre Dawson Classic, Hank Aaron Invitational, and Minor League games featuring baseball’s greatest up-and-comings allow fans to see top prospects. MLB Network also recently produced the world feed of the World Baseball Classic that takes place in March.
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Not Just Baseball
What with spring training and postseason baseball games it’s fair to question whether the sport really has an off-season. The natural flow of the year at One MLB Network Plaza in Secaucus doesn’t actually slow down, even when baseball does. In August 2015, MLB Advanced Media announced a content partnership with the National Hockey League. Since then, NHL Network has operated within the facilities of MLB Network.
The Rink (Photo Credit: NHL Network)
Of course, an entirely new sport’s programming lineup required a new hockey-themed studio. Thus, The Rink was born. Though audiences wouldn’t know it, the production house gets pretty intense when both sports are in play. Baseball season dovetails into hockey in the winter with sports stars colliding during annual events that coincide. And it’s all happening exactly where it should happen, in New Jersey.