A Space-Age Device For Delivering A Universe Of Data To Baseball Fans

A NASA-inspired data machine has been installed at the MLB Fan Cave in Manhattan just in time for baseball season.

Upon entering the Mission Control experience at Manhattan’s MLB Fan Cave, a gathering place for baseball enthusiasts on the corner of East 4th Street and Broadway, visitors encounter a massive 20-foot control panel packed with toggle switches, gauges, and screens. The retro-looking piece of machinery appears to be a relic rescued from NASA’s early days, but this device has nothing to do with space travel and everything to do with baseball.

Major League Baseball wanted a new attraction for its ongoing Fan Cave, an installation that hosts baseball-related events as well as a group of hardcore fans who watch every single game and generate social media content from the experience. Created by Brooklyn-based agency Breakfast, this version of Mission Control is designed to supply stat-hungry baseball fans with data pertaining to each team, stadium, and league. "The amount of data and content that exists around MLB is significant, and we had to find a way that would make it easily digestible while also being fun to interact with," says Breakfast cofounder and creative director Andrew Zolty, who describes Mission Control as "a fun way to dive through this content that wouldn’t be entirely expected."

Inspired by imagery from control rooms seen in the early days of space flight, Breakfast, known for masterminding experiences that connect the digital and physical worlds, built Mission Control from scratch. It took six weeks to construct, one week to install at the MLB Fan Cave and then one more week was spent fine-tuning the machine, which processes a huge amount of information.

Breakfast utilized 13 APIs to pull in an endless stream of data, spanning team, stadium, weather, social, historical, and real-time game info. "Baseball is a stats-driven sport, and we wanted to serve up as many stats as we possibly could, but we wanted to go much further," Zolty says, noting, "We wanted to bring them every piece of real-time data that was out there."

So visitors can flip a switch or observe a gauge to find out everything from how many bases a player has stolen over his career to how many World Series a team has won to what the current wind speed and temperature is at a particular ballpark.

In addition to devouring all sorts of stats, visitors can take in a few innings of baseball while hunkered down at Mission Control—a bank of 30 screens delivers live streams of each game from every ballpark.

And, soon, Mission Control will beam out live chats via MLBFanCave.com with players and other celebrities who stop by the New York City hub. (A schedule of chats will be published on the site along with a link that can be used to connect.)

So might we see more Mission Control units installed in ballparks and elsewhere? "There are no plans to build any more of these machines, but if [MLB commissioner] Bud Selig asks for one in his home, it’s going to be tough to say no," muses Breakfast cofounder and account director Michael Lipton.

[Images Courtesy of Breakfast NY]

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