ABC/ESPN Captures ‘Essence of Baseball’ With Little League World Series, MLB Little League Classic
All 32 LLWS games were broadcast, with 42 cameras deployed across two stadiums
The Little League World Series wrapped this weekend in Williamsport, PA, , with Japan defeating Texas to secure its fourth LLWS Championship title. For the ESPN crew on the ground at Lamade Stadium and Volunteer Stadium, the Little League World Series best represents what the sport of baseball is all about.
ABC, ESPN, and ESPN2 joined forces to broadcast all 32 games of the Little League World Series, which began on Aug. 17 and concluded with the Little League World Series Championship on Sunday Aug. 26. The MLB Little League Classic, which featured the St. Louis Cardinals against the Pittsburgh Pirates in a special regular-season game at the recently renovated BB&T Ballpark at Historic Bowman Field on Aug. 20, was exclusively televised by ESPN.
A total of 42 cameras were deployed between Lamade and Volunteer Stadiums to cover the Little League World Series, with 18 dedicated to Lamade, 15 dedicated to Volunteer, three dedicated to the host set (located on the concourse between Lamade and Volunteer Stadiums), and six shared between the two stadiums. ABC/ESPN replaced its older Sony HDC-3300 super-slo-mo cameras and NAC ultra-slo-mo cameras with three Sony HDC-4300 cameras, stationing one at Volunteer Stadium’s low-home position, one at Lamade Stadium’s low-home, and one at Lamade’s tight-center. For Championship weekend, ABC/ESPN moved a jib from Volunteer Stadium to Lamade Stadium.
For LLWS audio, ABC/ESPN again opted to wire both the home-plate umpire and the team managers with Shure bodypack lavalier microphones. The networks were able to tap into the coaches’ microphones live whenever they were on the field of play; umpire microphones were used for short-turnaround playback only. All microphones were on a profanity delay, which was monitored at ESPN’s Bristol, CT, facility.
Dome Productions’ Journey A unit handled all games at Volunteer Stadium; its Pacific A and expando B unit, Lamade Stadium. ABC/ESPN also parked five office trailers, one uplink, and five generators onsite to support the production.
“I have been working on the LLWS for more than 10 years,” says Dennis Cleary, associate director, remote operations, LLWS, “and feel that the Little League players are what draw the fans to watch both on TV and in Williamsport.”
For the MLB Little League Classic at BB&T Ballpark, ESPN deployed a total of 27 cameras, including one Phantom 4K; three Sony HDC-4300’s; four robo systems, including the exclusive Front Row Cam; four Marshall POVs; one TVU system; two RF handhelds, including a MōVI stabilization rig; one jib; and a shared aerial feed with LLWS. The Front Row Cam robo system was positioned at low home just inside the backstop, and additional robos were placed at mid first and mid home and in the booth. The Phantom 4K camera was in the low-first position. The jib and the MōVI rig were shared between game and studio productions.
ESPN buried FX microphones in the field and deployed RF base mics to capture the sounds of the MLB Little League Classic.
Because it was ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball game, the network rolled out its normal SNB complement to Williamsport. NEP’s EN2 A and B units, Illumination Dynamics’ Genny and C unit, a satellite truck, and an aerial receive unit all made the trek to central Pennsylvania. The Pirates defeated the Cardinals 6-3, but, by all accounts, the game was a success for all involved.
“This was just a tremendous event,” says Paul Horrell, operations manager for the LLWS MLB Classic. “With the recent renovations of BB&T/Bowman Field, they really did a nice job. Being a smaller park in a neighborhood setting, I think, it brings a sense of intimacy to the overall experience that’s hard to get in the larger settings. And, with the involvement and interactions between MLB and Little League players and fans, it really captures the excitement and essence of baseball.”