MIAMI -- Gripping a bat, standing in the batter's box at Marlins Park and crushing home runs like Giancarlo Stanton or Aaron Judge is every fan's dream.For the first time at MLB All-Star FanFest this year, fans looking for the ultimate Home Run Derby experience will get to do so
MIAMI -- Gripping a bat, standing in the batter's box at Marlins Park and crushing home runs like Giancarlo Stanton or Aaron Judge is every fan's dream.
For the first time at MLB All-Star FanFest this year, fans looking for the ultimate Home Run Derby experience will get to do so thanks to a new virtual reality game that provides a similar sense of euphoria Major Leaguers experience when stepping on the field.
"It's a custom, high-end VR experience where fans who come to the FanFest here in Miami for the All-Star Week will be able to step into the batter's box and crush home runs just like their heroes," said Jamie Leece, VP of games and VR for MLB Advanced Media.
Here's how it works: Users put on the VR headset, which instantly transports them to home plate at Marlins Park. Then they grab the real-life bat, swing like they normally would and launch as many dingers as possible in 90 seconds.
For the uneasy fans worried it might be a little too life-like, Leece said not to worry.
"It shouldn't make you uncomfortable to the point where your equilibrium is thrown off," he said. "But it should give you the feeling of being in a place that should move you and should give you feelings of being in a place that's incredible."
The game took about six months to develop, though Leece said about four years of underlying technology from building previous MLB games -- the ballparks, the bat hitting the ball -- went into it, as well.
The experience will be set up in two separate cages and will be available during FanFest from July 7-11 at the Miami Beach Convention Center.
Based on early feedback, Leece expects the game to be a hit.
"We certainly expect people that try this to fall in love with it and really have a good time and have a one-of-a-kind moment that you wouldn't otherwise get," Leece said. "This is just such a rare technology that most consumers and fans haven't had the chance to experience."
Patrick Pinak is a reporter for MLB.com based in Miami.