A Day In The Life Of… The Datacaster

By: Jim Nelson

Have you ever wondered how the game is produced over the
internet? How box scores and stats are entered into the record book, or how you
can watch the game in real-time on your computer if you’re not able to make it
to the ballpark? It’s a job done entirely by one person … In this case,
me! My name is Jim Nelson, and I’m
the datacaster/stringer for the Fresno Grizzlies. I am in my fifth year with the
Grizzlies, working alongside the rest of my colleagues up in the stadium press

To land my job, I started by first taking a 10-page written
test issued by Major League Baseball Advanced Media (MLBAM). This test is based
on general baseball knowledge, and included many obscure questions that only a
true baseball fan would know the answer to. My testing then advanced to calling
games on paper; I was sent a series of plays as if scoring a live game, and it
was up to me to determine the calls. Finally, after a series of telephone
interviews with MLB in New York, I was offered a job with the Fresno Grizzlies.
At that time, I had no idea what I was in for, but I am glad I made the
decision to pursue it!

My gamedays start about an hour before each game when I go
up to the press box and grab the lineups for each team. I take my seat right
behind home plate, which I believe is the best seat in the house!  I load the lineups, umpires, and even the
weather into the software 


provided by MLBAM. Once I’ve made sure that all of the information is loaded
correctly, I get to go enjoy dinner with all the other folks in the press box.

Finally, it’s time to play ball! I sit in my seat and as the
game begins, I start entering strings of codes into the computer. The coding is
much like a foreign language. I record every single movement, from pitch
location, balls, strikes, hits, walks, errors, and all player movement on the
base paths. For example, 54/sac/bg.1-2
translates into a sacrifice bunt hit to
the 3rd baseman, with the 2nd baseman covering 1st, and the runner advancing to
2nd base
. Complicated, yet simple! Every move made during the game must be
entered– even things like a coach visiting the mound– as my accounting is the
official statistic for the record book. So who watches me, to see that I don’t make
an error? During the game, I am connected via AIM with MLBAM colleagues in New
York City, who watch each and every major and minor league game in play. If I
make a mistake, they are able to catch it, and let me know. I then make the
correction as needed. It’s always a
good night when I make it through an entire game without hearing from NYC!

Finally, while you’re watching fireworks or other post-game
activities, or filing out of the stadium, I will be busy in the press box
reviewing my work; the stats will be compiled and the box score created. I get final
approval from New York that all of my information is good. At that point, the box
score is printed. I hand the information over to the Grizzlies media personnel,
who distribute it to both managers and all media, and at that point, it becomes
the game of record.

If you’re not able to make it out to the ballpark, I welcome
you to follow the game in real time through the link at

One comment

  1. comette

    Thanks for sharing your slice of life Jim! I spent a lot of time checking the screen-feeds for the “at-bat” feature both at home and at work last season to get the latest play updates. I can’t decide which point of view I like best on it yet. I’ll look around during my ballpark visit to Fresno in April and see if I can spot ya!
    ~Christine, Nevada.

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