If you've ever been on a tour of Petco Park, you may have walked right past one of it's great secrets. Attached to the wall is what appears to be a simple flat gray electrical box. Only if you look closely would you see etched on a black metal label the Major League Baseball logo and the following words:
Property of the Office of the Commissioner of Baseball
For use by authorized Major League Baseball personnel only
What secrets are protected behind this box with two locks? Well if you were clever enough to read the title of this post, then you already know it's the Instant Replay Console at Petco Park.
In 2007, the General Managers voted 25-5 to approve Instant Replay. In 2008, Bud Selig made Instant Replay available to review boundary home run calls. Only the Umpire crew chief and at least one other member of his crew are allowed to open the box to review a play on the field.
I presume that each umpire has a key on a neck chain. The chief and his crew member place the keys into the dual locks and turn them at the same time in order to open it. It's just like you'd see a submariner captain and his first mate do before a nuclear missile launch.
Once the door of the box is opened they'll see a 2008 model Sharp Aquos LCD television, the official sponsor of MLB. A phone is also installed in the box and they'll use it to call a technician in the MLB.com's New York office to have the play cued up for them.
Each Major League ballpark has a similar box. This particular box at Petco Park has only been used twice in the line of duty. Both happened in a 10 day time period in 2010.
Drew drove a 3-2 fastball from Wade LeBlanc to right field, and the ball caromed off the fifth row of seats onto the field. First-base umpire Ted Barrett originally signaled the ball was in play before the hit was reviewed and ruled a home run.
Now you know the secret of the Instant Replay Console box. Keep it hidden in your heart behind two locks.
04/11 ARI @ SDN
In the top of the second, Willie Bloomquist's fly ball hit the top of the wall in left center and was ruled in play. Bloomquist reached third on the hit. D-Backs manager Kirk Gibson asked the umpires about the call so crew chief Jeff Kellogg watched the replay and upheld the call.
05/09 COL @ SDN
In the top of the fourth inning, Jason Giambi's fly hit the top of the wall and rebounded onto the field. It was ruled in play. Crew chief Tom Hallion watched the replay and upheld the call.
05/09 COL @ SDN
In the top of the sixth inning, Wilin Rosario’s fly hit the top of the wall and rebounded onto the field. It was ruled in play. Crew chief Tom Hallion watched the replay and upheld the call. This was the second use of replay in the game.
05/14 SDN @ WAS
In the bottom of the sixth inning, Ian Desmond's fly ball hit the green strip at the top of the RF out-of-town scoreboard and caromed onto the field. It was ruled in play. Nationals manager Davey Johnson asked about the call, so the umpires huddled and then crew chief Brian Gorman watched the replay and upheld the call.
06/19 TEX @ SDN
In the top of the seventh, Adrian Beltre's fly ball hit the RF pole and was ruled a homer. The umpires huddled and crew chief Mike Winters watched the replay and upheld the call.