Chicago Cubs, Motorola go wireless for bullpen phone

By Andrew Lippe
The Chicago Cubs were the last major league ballclub to add lights but on June 13 they’ll be the first to move to a wireless bullpen communications system. For the first time ever MLB managers will use secured Motorola wireless phones to communicate to the bullpen.
Motorola developed the MOTOTALK system in cooperation with the Chicago Cubs, ushering in a new era for bullpen phone communication. Through the two-way mobile phone iDEN technology, Motorola continues to redefine Push-to-Talk (PTT) and wireless technology. “PTT is instant communication, there is no waiting period and no delay from the dugout to the bullpen,” says Steven Hendricks Direct of Media relations for Motorola. Hendricks describes PTT as a two-way radio.
The Motorola i580, developed exclusively for the Cubs features an ultra durable design to withstand even the toughest day in the dugout. Hendricks said the iDEN technology is convenient and Motorola developed a private channel for two handsets one in each dugout.

To make the call, the manager simply sends an alert to the other phone.
The bullpen phone will vibrate and produce a constant ring until it is
answered or the caller ends the call. To speak, the manager or coach
simply has to press the Push-to-Talk (PTT) button to hold a
conversation. The Motorola i580 phones will be housed on specially
designed mounting systems in each dugout offering both the Cubs and
their visiting opponent easy access to the new wireless solution.

Each equipped handset meets strict military specifications for rain, dust, shock and vibration. This handset and the wireless system had to pass a series of tests set forth by Major League Baseball officials for reliability, ease of use, security and clarity with crowd noise before it was approved. “These are restricted handsets so the lines don’t mix,” Hendricks says.

The MOTOTALK system enables the Motorola handsets to operate on a private channel and the software modifications allow each handset to only communicate with a partner handset. The result is a secure system, ensuring that the integrity of the game is not compromised in any way.

“We are very proud to be the first team in Major League Baseball history to introduce wireless communication between dugouts and bullpens.,” said John McDonough, senior vice president of marketing and broadcasting for the Chicago Cubs. “We are anxious to see how it works.” Even the Cubs manager Dusty Baker is excited and approves.

Major League Baseball and the Hall of Fame will be in attendance to witness the first wireless call to the bullpen by Cubs Manager Baker or Houston Astros’ Manager Phil Garner. Following the game the Motorola i580 phone used for the first wireless call to the bullpen in Major League history will be taken to Cooperstown and placed on display.

According to Hendricks, MOTOTALK will be available for consumers soon on Sprint and Nextel phones.

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