The MLB has shown a very keen interest in exploring virtual reality-oriented options The organization even went as far as creating the world’s first VR HR Derby This event has now been won by Charles Smolka. It is another great example of how virtual reality is impacting sports franchises on a very large scale
The First MLB VR HR Derby
As the name suggests, the MLB VR HR Derby allows children to swing a bat as if they were attempting to hit a homerun during an important LB game They wear a dedicated VR headset and use a physical bat to time their strike accordingly Although it sounds a bit silly on paper, the first event of this kind has seen a lot of initial success The winner of the first-ever VR HR Derby won four tickets to the MLB All-star Game
Charles Smolka, age 9, is the first Home Run Derby Virtual Reality champion. He partook in this event together with dozens of other enthusiasts. The MLB organized a special area for this new tournament during its 2018 All-Star FanFest. Only 32 players were eligible to participate in the actual “event”, although many more attempted to qualify.
Playing baseball in virtual reality is different from doing so in real life. Although the technique and objective are the same, the immersive environment makes it feel completely different. Participants in the VR HR Derby felt as if they were playing on the actual field, despite standing on a booth several miles away. Hitting as many home runs as possible is a very difficult challenge, especially because players had to aim for the multipliers to increase their score.
To cap it all off, all VR HR Derby participants received their own jersey sporting their nickname. Additionally, they received a pair of batting gloves and a hat with their favorite team displayed front and center. For fans of baseball, this VR HR Derby is a godsend. It shows the MLB cares about its fans and wants to engage entire families in many different ways. This event was not just attended by families, but also live-streamed by over 120,000 people around the world. It is one of the biggest examples of how successful virtual reality can become through dedicated efforts.
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