It’s about the fun, not the flash

For the 3rd year in a row I was happy to host the Montreal edition of Baseball Hack Day, on March 25th, 2017. Anyone who knows me even just a little bit, knows I’m a big baseball fan. So when I heard a few years ago about a Baseball-themed Hack Day going on in Boston, I was very tempted to take the train down to participate. That didn’t end up happening, but I did eventually get in touch with the organizer, Daigo Fujiwara, to start a Montreal chapter in a network of cities that host the event.

“Baseball Hack Day encourages the development of baseball-related projects, partnerships and experiments with the goal of creating better ties between our technology and sports communities.”
— Daigo Fujiwara, founder of Baseball Hack Day

The first year we hosted the one-day hackathon, we got pretty gung-ho about it. Convinced that we would unearth a massive tribe of baseball / tech nerds like myself, we booked Notman House for what we thought would be about 50 participants. Well, we learned about the fickle nature of registering for free events when only about a dozen or so folks showed up.

So the last couple of years, we’ve scaled our expectations back a bit, holding the event at the Breather space next door to the Plank office. We’ve stayed pretty steady at around a dozen people each year. But we’ve also come to really appreciate the quality of the event over the quantity of attendees.

Montreal Baseball Hack Day is not a flashy affair. We have a few sponsors, but it’s nothing like the mega-hackathons that keep folks up all night chasing prestige or big bucks. It’s just a fun day where we eat some pizza and try to come up with a baseball tech project in about 7 hours. We invite local sportscasters and baseball enthusiasts to judge the projects, and they’ve always been quite excited to see what our hackers have come up with. For me, it’s about supporting a baseball culture here in Montreal, because without that culture, we’ll never get a team back here!

We’ve developed a few repeat hackers who rival my own baseball nerdiness, and it’s great to see them every year and talk baseball over a beer after the projects have all been presented. And they’ve told us that Montreal Baseball Hack Day is one of their favourite hackathons because it really is just for the fun of it. Even non-baseball fans have enjoyed playing around with the vast data sets that the sport offers.

“There are only two things I care about in life, they are baseball and hackathons.”
—Motoki Nakamura, two-time MTL BBHD runner-up.

Now that we have three years under our belts, we can see where we can tweak the event to make it even better. Top of the list is seeking out that special breed of person whose ears perk up when they hear the words “baseball” and “hacking” in the same sentence. We’d like to get more of those folks involved in the planning of the event, and rustling up the technologically-minded baseball fans in our fair city. Oh, and we think it’s about time that Montreal took home the top prize awarded across all the participating cities.

So if you like the sound of Montreal Baseball Hack Day, please get in touch to see how you can get involved in planning next year’s edition. Or sign up to our mailing list to get updates about the event.

And, of course, happy Baseball season!

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