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MLB Little League Classic 2023: ESPN Taps Into Bowman Field's Intimate Setting, Increased Team Access

17/08/2023

MLB Little League Classic 2023: ESPN Taps Into Bowman Field's Intimate Setting, Increased Team Access A new edition of KidsCast will air with young broadcasters, special guests on ESPN2 By Kristian Hern ndez, Senior Editor

Thursday, August 17, 2023 - 1:55 pm

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Kicking off with yesterday's four-game slate of international and domestic matchups, the 2023 Little League World Series is officially in full swing in Williamsport, PA. When two professional franchises, the Philadelphia Phillies and Washington Nationals, square off in the 2023 MLB Little League Classic on Sunday, Aug. 20, ESPN will attack this annual event with a REMI production from Bristol, CT and technology that highlights the nostalgic spirit of the Little League World Series (LLWS).

It's always special to get a chance to see Major League players in a more youth-oriented environment and see that side of their personalities, says Phil Orlins, VP, production, ESPN. MLB has bought into that access, and it's the best we get for a regular season game.

Broadcasting From Bristol: REMI Production Includes NEP Mobile Units, 13 Game Cameras During each summer, ESPN becomes the home of all levels of baseball. Whether it's the College World Series in June, the weekly Sunday Night Baseball slate, or the MLB Home Run Derby in July, the fun continues with the nearly two-week-long Little League World Series in August. With that onslaught of productions on their plate, ESPN is opting for a REMI production from Bristol of this Sunday's regular season clash of National League East opponents. Leveraging this production method since 2021, which featured the then-Cleveland Indians and the Los Angeles Angels, this approach not only allows ESPN's MLB personnel to focus on the swath of other broadcasts but also has other benefits.

It allows us to keep our traditional model consistent and is definitely more cost efficient, says Orlins. The ESPN broadcast is similar to how we produce Sunday Night Baseball, but for the KidsCast on ESPN2, we'll have a producer in Williamsport to be in direct contact with [on-air talent] and another producer in Bristol to collaborate on the execution of elements.

ESPN has constructed an independent compound at Bowman Field.

Prior to the first REMI in 2021, the operations team at ESPN made a concerted effort and investment into bolstering the infrastructure at the venue. This strengthened connectivity is bringing together NEP's NCPII mobile unit with the two control rooms being used in Bristol. This onsite compound is separate than the extensive LLWS complex located six miles away, and despite the idea of utilizing the LLWS compound for the Little League Classic being an option, it wasn't a time-sensitive one.

We've had those discussions, but trying to route fiber across town after doing four games the day before would be difficult, adds Orlins. For instance, we've done a REMI for the MLB Draft at MLB All-Star this way, but it wasn't really a viable approach without jeopardizing what we have in place for the Little League World Series.

From an equipment perspective, the game will feature 13 cameras (10 hard and two handheld) as well as the popular UmpCam that has been seen during Sunday Night Baseball.

New Faces on KidsCast: Alternate Feed Spotlights Skills of the Broadcasters of Tomorrow Since making its debut in 2019, KidsCast has grown into another example of ESPN's excellent work with alternative broadcasts. On the commentary side, second-time participant and reporter Pepper Persley will be joined by a pair of two new talent: Zach Brody and Owen Heffron. Emanating from the Bruce Beck Sports Broadcasting Camp, the network has seen success with these up-and-coming announcers. And although these future stars are still working to perfect their craft, this alternative broadcast is still shaped around presenting their talent in a professional-level environment.

Pepper Persley (right) interviews President George W. Bush during last year's KidsCast.

Their skill level is good, and my confidence in them is very high, continues Orlins. What I always say is that we don't just do the game with kids, but also create a broadcast scenario that's roughly the same as what we'd ask Michael Kay to do on KayRod Cast.

This includes numerous interviews with celebrities, players, and dignitaries. In the past, previous editions have included special guests like LLWS legends Mo'ne Davis and Todd Frazier, MLB superstar Shohei Ohtani, President George W. Bush, and more. This year's edition will see MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred and another slate of new guests.

Operationally, this edition of the game will also be conducted as a REMI in a similar way that KayRod Cast is done. For the main broadcast on ESPN, this version will include the SNB team of Karl Ravech, Eduardo Perez, David Cone, and Buster Olney. Roxy Bernstein and Doug Glanville will have the call on ESPN Radio, and on ESPN Deportes, the trio of Ernesto Jerez, Luis Alfredo Alvarez, and Guillermo Celis will provide commentary.

Inside the Clubhouse: Fans Gain Access to Players With In-Game Interviews, Talent on Team Buses ESPN is always trying to bring fans closer to the players they're watching on television, and an event like the Little League Classic is one of the best places to do it. With the idea of putting Little Leaguers and the amateur game at the forefront, the league is allowing the network to have more time and access with both clubs. After limitations last year due to the lingering effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, those restrictions are now being loosened and are allowing activations like reporters on team buses after landing at the airport. Another production wrinkle that will allow players in the dugout to speak wit
LINK: https://www.sportsvideo.org/2023/08/17/mlb-little-league-classic-2023-...
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