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Starting Thursday, 'robot umpire' to be used during Atlantic League regular-season games

STEVE HEISER
717-505-5446/@ydsports
  • Starting Thursday, the "robot ump" will be used in the Atlantic League regular season.
  • The Automated Ball-Strike System will call balls and strikes.
  • The "robot ump" made its debut during the Atlantic League All-Star Game in York.
Home plate umpire Brian deBrauwere, left, calls a strike given to him by a radar system over an earpiece as Liberty Division's Tyler Ladendorf, right, of the High Point Rockers, strikes out to Freedom Division's Mitch Atkins, of the York Revolution, during the first inning of the Atlantic League All-Star minor league baseball game, Wednesday, July 10, 2019, in York, Pa. deBrauwere wore the earpiece connected to an iPhone in his ball bag which relayed ball and strike calls upon receiving it from a TrackMan computer system that uses Doppler radar. The independent Atlantic League became the first American professional baseball league to let the computer call balls and strikes during the all star game. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

The "robot umpire" is coming to Atlantic League regular-season games.

The league announced Tuesday that the Automated Ball-Strike System, commonly known as a "robot umpire," will call balls and strikes for the remainder of the 2019 season, starting on Thursday at games hosted by the High Point Rockers, Lancaster Barnstormers and Long Island Ducks.

The "robot umpire," using TrackMan software, made its debut during the Atlantic League All-Star Game at PeoplesBank Park in York on July 10.

'Robot umpires' make debut in Atlantic League All-Star Game at PeoplesBank Park in York

“This is a landmark day for the Atlantic League and professional baseball,” said Atlantic League President Rick White in a news release. “After successfully unveiling the ABS at our All-Star Game in York, Pa., and following positive feedback from managers, players, umpires and fans, we are eager to implement the consistent strike zone accuracy offered by ABS technology.”

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Throughout the second half of the Atlantic League season, home plate umpires will be assisted calling balls and strikes by the ABS, which utilizes Doppler radar technology.

Umpires will use their judgment for limited ball-strike issues, such as check swings, while continuing to perform their other normal duties.

York Revolution players, home-plate ump on board with new electronic strike zone software

The use of ABS is part of the three-year partnership between MLB and the Atlantic League, which tests experimental playing rules and equipment initiatives throughout the Atlantic League season.

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The ABS system will be used during a York Revolution regular-season home game for the first time on Friday against the New Britain Bees. That game is set for a 6:30 p.m. start at PeoplesBank Park.

Reach Steve Heiser at sheiser@yorkdispatch.com.