Virtual reality (VR) is one of the hottest tech topics today, and its popularity has reached Major League Baseball.
MLB and Google have launched an original VR video series that gives fans an up-close and personal look at some of baseball’s best talent. Titled “On the Verge,” the first episodes are available on the MLB’s At Bat VR app for DayDream View, Google’s VR headset, and cardboard headsets, as well as in 2D on the league’s YouTube channel.
Boston Red Sox outfielder Mookie Betts, Pittsburgh Pirates first baseman Josh Bell, Minnesota Twins pitcher Jose Berrios, and San Diego Padres outfielder Manuel Margot are the first players to be featured in the series, marking the MLB’s efforts to engage millennials and market its most promising young stars. All four players are under the age of 25.
“On the Verge” provides game action in 360-degree VR views, from the dugout to the stands, so fans can feel like they’re on the field, near the cage during batting practice, or even in the clubhouse. The videos come with storytelling from each respective player, with Margot, for example, explaining his journey from the Dominican Republic to the major leagues in his native Spanish.
“We worked closely with MLB to tell these stories from a new perspective amidst unique access points around ballparks with Jump, Google’s platform for VR video capture that combines high-quality VR cameras and automated stitching,” Matt Apfel, director of VR video at Google, explains in a blog post. “Because the Jump cameras don’t take up a ton of space, it allowed MLB to capture memorable moments on and off the field, ultimately producing fun stories of what it’s like to be big leaguers.”
This is not the first time Google has collaborated with the MLB. The tech giant recently unveiled a mobile VR video game where users can take part in the MLB’s Home Run Derby at eight of the world’s top ballparks, including Miami’s Marlins Park – home of the 2017 All-Star Game – as well as Chicago’s Wrigley Field and Fenway Park in Boston.