PLAY BALL

I was quietly minding my own business on a Monday afternoon when I received a telephone call from Tom. He was replacing and installing cable for several local television stations at Fenway Park in Boston.
I guess since the Red Sox had won their first World Series Title in over seventy years, someone thought it would be a good idea to upgrade the park. We all know how primitive television was 75 years ago. It didn't even have pictures back then. I think they called it radio.

Someone had moved up a deadline because some of the cast and crew of 'Fever Pitch', the new Drew Barrymore and Jimmy Fallon movie, were coming to town and the producers wanted to use the park for the party. Because of this, several areas had to be completed almost a week early so that the local stations could televise the party. All of the field camera positions that run out of the home dugout had to be completed by Wednesday.
I told Tom that I'd be glad to help for a couple of days to meet the Wednesday deadline and I'd be there Tuesday morning. About an hour after I hung up the telephone, ABCNEWS called asking if I could be on a plane to Rome in three hours. This was the same week that the Pope died and the election was about to start. I had to tell them I couldn't make that timetable due to a prior commitment. If things work out I'll be able to do some work for ABC at Kennedy Space Center during the Shuttle liftoff in July.

It would seem I arrived at Fenway park in the nick of time. The picture below is my friend Tom, the technical manager, at the tie line hub.

The job wasn't too difficult but there were a lot of cables to terminate. Each TV station had multiple tie lines to various parts of the stadium. Home Dug-out, Visitors Dug-out, Locker Room, Press Room, Clubhouse and an on-site restaurant among other locations. I crawled around some 'nooks and crannies' that hadn't seen the light of day since Babe Ruth played for the Red Sox.

 

Each station typically had six audio, two video and several telephone lines at each location. Just to complete the dug-out terminations required almost two days. I first arrived at 08:00 Tuesday morning and left at 01:30 Wednesday morning. I was back at 07:30 Wednesday to complete testing and begin introducing the tie line system to every television news crew in the area.

All of the field camera cables were pulled through a small 4"x4" (10x10cm) mouse hole behind the blue tarp in the above picture. When they were all being used simultaneously during the 'Fever Pitch' party it was quite crowded.

 

 

The new Red Sox Press room included a full rack of tie lines and audio distribution and PA systems.

 

A couple of other installers were called away for a day during the build and I stayed until Friday. The job was finished in time for the Red Sox home opener on Monday.
Until next time.....

Jim Alfonse, owner of Tri-Sys Designs, is a Systems Integrator with twenty-five years experience in the Broadcast Industry. He's designed, built and commissioned installations from Satellite News Vehicles to Production Suites to OB vans. Jim has been involved with several equipment manufacturers performing video standards compliance and signal integrity testing.
For more articles on various subjects visit www.tri-sysdesigns.com