Major League Baseball player Tyler O’Neill hit a foul ball off at just the right angle to send it flying into the lens of the backstop camera. The damage caused a slight delay in play as the grounds crew dealt with the bits of shattered glass.
As reported by DPReview, O’Neill — an outfielder for the Saint Louis Cardinals — ripped the foul ball off an 0-1 pitch delivered by Miami Marlin’s pitcher Sandy Alcantara during the two teams’ April 6 meeting. The pitch came in at O’Neill at 90 miles-per-hour and was classified as a “changeup,” or pitch that appears to the batter to be a fastball but moves much slower than a pitcher’s maximum velocity.
Because the ball arrived much later than O’Neill anticipated, he only tipped the ball as he swung the bat out in front and fouled it directly behind home plate. By happenstance, it made direct contact with a broadcast camera.
In the video below, you can even hear the loud “crack” as the ball shatters the front of the lens.
As DPReview notes, the lens it destroyed appears to be a Fujinon WCV-L85 0.8x Wide Angle Converter Lens attached to the front of a Fujinon UA18x7.6BERD broadcast zoom lens. The converter retails for $1,800 while the lens comes in at a much higher $22,495. Luckily, it appears that only the wide-angle converter was destroyed by the ball, making the pain of having to replace the part a bit easier to stomach.
Below are a couple of frames that show a before and after look at the damage:
Because of COVID-19 protocols, the broadcast team’s technical crew wasn’t allowed on the field, meaning that two batboys had to hastily sweep the shards of glass of the track and the back wall before play could resume. O’Neill would strike out on the next pitch, but the Cardinals would go on to win the game 4-2.
“I’ve never seen it,” said Cardinals manager Mike Shildt to MLB.com, “but it’s one thing that’s great about our game. You can go to a ballpark, and you have a good chance to see something that you’ve never seen, regardless of how many times you’ve walked in the stadium. One of the beautiful things about our game.”
Sports and cameras have a bit of a dicey history, and this isn’t even the first time a baseball player has found a way to destroy broadcasting equipment. In 2010 during a Yankees and Rangers game, a player broke his bat and the pieces flew directly into a $90,000 Canon broadcast lens which resulted in a $20,000 repair bill. In 2013, Danish professional golfer Thomas Bjorn sent a ball directly into the front of an ESPN broadcast lens, destroying it.
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