Big Train Baseball Network Breaks Records

by Adam Glover

The Bethesda Big Train continued to improve an already fantastic organization by creating and implementing a brand new broadcast system and network for the 2023 season.

The Big Train Baseball Network raised the bar this past season in the Ripken League, and set a foundation for growth for years to come. Harrison Meyers, the Director of Broadcasting, created the setup, and worked with broadcasters Adam Glover and Eli Kleinmann on how to operate the network.

In years past, the quality of broadcasts has fluctuated, and every seasonal broadcaster has broadcasted their own specific way. The implementation of a network allowed for each broadcast to be consistent and of a higher quality. 

This consistency paid off in a big way as the newly formed Big Train Baseball Network had a record breaking year, with more than 25,000 total views and six 1,000 view games, including five in a row during the teams miraculous run to their 10th Ripken League Championship. 

The Big Train’s LCS Semi-Final game against the Cropdusters on July 25th, broke records with over 1,900 viewers, trouncing the previous high by hundreds of views. The Big Train’s LCS Finals game against the Aces on July 26th, was the first radio broadcast to eclipse 1,000 listeners. 

The Big Train Baseball Network’s achievements go far beyond viewership numbers. The overall goal was to improve the production side of the broadcasts. 

By the end of the season, the broadcasts featured anywhere from six to eight camera angles, as well as commercial break music and packages. Experimentation with live hits down to field level also occurred throughout the season, and most games featured multiple on-field interviews.

Shirley Povich Field wasn’t the only place the Big Train Baseball Network was able to go to. Thanks to the easy setup, radio broadcasts were offered for every road game, and TV was brought to Waldorf, MD, for the network's first road TV broadcast. The Big Train participated in a New England trip that featured a road broadcast in Martha’s Vineyard. The equipment’s small size allowed the network to broadcast the first game played outside of the DMV area. 

The small set up made it easier for the network to broadcast in settings where there were challenges. Shirley Povich Field was the only location where Glover and Kleinmann had a broadcast booth. That means, every road game there was some kind of challenge that was overcome. In many locations the Big Train staff had to bring tents, tables, and chairs, as broadcast for road games would take place outside. In Silver Spring, the broadcast was set up underneath the bleachers, as there was no room for it in the press box.

However, the broadcast came with its fair share of trials and tribulations. The first week of broadcasts featured some audio issues that made voices sound unclear.  The broadcast was initially produced with BlueFrame Production Truck, a common software used by many different colleges. Meyers, after testing out his equipment and changing computers, decided to upgrade the production again. For the second half of the season, broadcasts were produced with vMix. The broadcasts were of a higher quality than with Production Truck, and Meyers created new graphics for the games.

Meyers also worked closely with on-field reporter Cailey Thalman, to create pre and post game shows to be featured on both the broadcast and social media. Daily interviews let fans understand what was going on behind the scenes, and helped build relationships between the players and broadcasters.