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MLB okays Apple Watch for use in the dugout, cell phones still banned

Major League Baseball will reportedly allow coaches and team personnel to wear Apple Watches in the dugout during games— while continuing to ban other electronic devices, including cell phones— as long as the Watch is not used for communication.

The MLB home office was forced to confront the issue this week after Kansas City Royals manager Ned Yost was spotted wearing his Apple Watch in the dugout during a game against the Cincinnati Reds. Yost received the Watch in question from Major League Baseball itself after managing the American League team in this year's All-Star Game.

While some overzealous publications initially reported that MLB had banned the Apple Watch after speaking with Yost, an MLB spokesperson told MarketWatch that was not the case. The league merely checked with Yost to ensure he was not using it to access scouting data or otherwise communicate with team personnel during the game.

"When you're away from your phone, all it is is a watch," Yost told the league, according to the Kansas City Star's Andy McCullough.

That will change with the release of watchOS 2, which will bring native apps and expanded Wi-Fi connectivity to the Watch this fall. There is no word on what MLB will do at that point, though the new capabilities may cause the Watch to fall under the league's electronic device policy.

While there is no official rule against electronic devices, then-MLB operations chief Sandy Alderson effectively laid down the law with a memo distributed in 2000:

Please be reminded that the use of electronic equipment during a game is restricted. No club shall use electronic equipment, including walkie-talkies and cellular telephones, to communicate to or with any on-field personnel, including those, in the dugout, bullpen, field and-during the game-the clubhouse. Such equipment may not be used for the purpose of stealing signs or conveying information designed to give a club an advantage.