The Houston Astros have been accused of employing sign-stealing tactics for several seasons now, a some former members of the organization have confirmed that the team engaged in such practices during the year in which they won the World Series.
Ken Rosenthal and Evan Drellich of The Athletic spoke with four people who were with the Astros in 2017, including starting pitcher Mike Fiers. The sources claim the Astros used a video camera positioned in the outfield at Minute Maid Park and a video screen in the home dugout to decode signs that were being used by the opposing team’s catcher.
While the Astros have denied the numerous sign-stealing allegations against them, the former members of their World Series team described the practice they used that season in detail. According to the report, a feed from the camera in the outfield was linked to a television that was positioned on a wall in the tunnel that runs between the home dugout and the clubhouse at Minute Maid Park. Team employees and players would watch the monitor from massage tables across a wide hallway to see if they could decode their opponent’s signals, and the expected pitch would be relayed using a loud noise if they became confident they had stolen the signs. To do this, a player or staffer would bang on a trash can before a breaking ball or off-speed pitch was supposed to come.
Two of The Athletic’s sources said the Astros stopped using the tactics prior to the postseason in 2017, while another claimed he could vividly recall hearing the sound of a banging trash can before a Houston home run during the playoffs. The same source doubted whether players were able to hear the noise due to the loud environment inside the ballpark.