Red Sox Accused of Cheating with Apple Watch

John Lister's picture

The Boston Red Sox are accused of cheating by using an Apple Watch as part of a scheme to relay signals to a batsman. It's a rule-breaking use of technology for an otherwise legitimate tactic.

The Red Sox, like most teams, were trying to find a way to give batters an advantage by knowing what type of pitch is coming. Normally a catcher - sometimes with the advice of a coach - will signal a suggested pitch to the pitcher via hand gestures. The player placements mean the batter can't see this signal.

In principle it's legitimate for the batting team to spot these signals and make the batter aware of them. For example, a player on second base might be able to see the catcher's hands and then make their own gesture to the batter. However, the rules say the batting team can't use any type of device to aid this process, not even 'analog' gadgets such as telescopes or binoculars. (Source:

Sneaky Tactic Caught On Camera

Video showed one of the Red Sox training staff looking at an Apple Watch while sat in the dugout. The New York Times reported that the staff member then passed on a message to players in the dugout who signaled runners on base, who in turn signaled the batter. (Source:

Normally players and staff in the dugout don't have access to any form of electronic communications or video of the game. That means that somebody watching the game on video - in this case, staff with access to the video replay system that carries multiple camera angles - would have to spot the signal and then physically make their way to the dugout or some other location where they could relay the message.

Second Base Runner Was Key

The time spent on this movement is enough to make such signaling too slow to get the message to the batter before the pitch is thrown. By using the Apple smart watch, the Red Sox were able to relay the information from video screen to batter in mere moments.

It seems likely the watch was used as it would be less visible than a smartphone or tablet. Suspicion was first aroused after a game where Red Sox batters did unusually well when a runner was on second base and thus able to signal the batter.

Baseball bosses are now deciding whether to launch a more detailed investigation, as well as whether to impose any penalties.

What's Your Opinion?

Do you consider using the smart watch in this way to be cheating? Given the money involved, is it inevitable that teams will use tech to stretch or even break the rules? Should baseball bosses consider physically blocking wireless signals in dugouts if that was practical?

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ronbh's picture

If you ain't cheatin' you ain't tryin'

Looks like the red sox did not try hard enough.

Must be a new england thing.

Rusty's picture

I think it's pretty shameful myself, and believe it or not, I am a New Englander.

matt_2058's picture

Severe consequences for violation of the rules. If it's not in the rules, that's another story.

Play should be limited to those in the game(staff in the dugout included), not plants in the stands.