An M.L.B. Game Will be Called Entirely by Women
Next week, for the first time on a show, Major League Baseball fans will be able to watch a game in which they may not hear a man’s voice. Five women will be on the air squad for the Baltimore Orioles vs St. Petersburg Tampa Bay Rays.
Melanie Newman, the Orioles’ radio announcer since last year, will call the action for Tuesday’s game, which will be MLB Game of the Week live on YouTube. Sarah Langs, a popular baseball analyst and writer for MLB.com, will be the analyst in the booth. Alanna Rizzo will handle the on-field reporting and Heidi Watney and Lauren Gardner will host the pre and postgame shows.
“It can’t help but feel different,” Rizzo said in a telephone interview. “I’ve always had a male voice in my ear in every game I’ve played. So to do a game where these voices are Melanie and Sarah, it’s going to be a unique feeling and a unique perspective to the game. It’s exciting to be a part of something like that.
Women have been broadcasting baseball games on radio and television for decades, but it is believed that this is the first time that an all-women team will handle the entire broadcast of a major league game.
Last year, two NHL games were broadcast in the United States and Canada with all of the women’s broadcast and production teams. The shows were presented with female presenters, producers, directors and cameramen. Even the technicians inside the production trucks were women.
But the games they showed were played on March 8, 2020, three days before the NBA’s Rudy Gobert tested positive for the coronavirus, and much of the glare from that moment was consumed by the sports stoppage that followed over the next few days.
Hannah Storm and Andrea Kremer began broadcasting NFL games for Amazon Prime Video in 2018, and in March, a five-woman team managed an NBA game between the Toronto Raptors and the Denver Nuggets. Major League Soccer broke the barrier in 2018, and now it’s baseball’s turn.
“It shows that the world is changing and more accepting of the different voices, the different appearances and perspectives of the game,” said Rizzo. “It’s not an all-male game anymore, and we don’t live in an all-male world.”
Rizzo was in high school in Colorado in 1993 when his accounting teacher brought a television into the classroom so they could watch the Rockies’ first game. Later that same year, Gayle Gardner became the first woman to broadcast a televised game between the Colorado and the Cincinnati Reds.
It took almost three more decades before broadcasters put together an all-female team.
“Having the first female label is something that’s happened in my career,” said Newman, “and it’s something that I recognize as very important. But we also want to make sure that even though we get all of those firsts , we are not the last either. “
Newman, who grew up in Georgia listening to Jim Fyffe on Auburn’s football radio shows, called minor league baseball games on the radio for six years and was part of the first all-female show of a minor league match alongside Suzie Cool for a 2019 Red Sox Salem Match. A year later, Newman became the voice of the Orioles radio shows.
On June 22, Newman played a national game between the Texas Rangers and Oakland Athletics on YouTube on June 22, which went so well that it became the genesis of the plan to form a broadcast team. entirely feminine. According to Noah Garden, MLB’s chief revenue officer, the plan is to make all-female booths a more regular feature of the games and add a diversity of backgrounds and women of color.
“It’s very important, and we have diversity on this one,” he said, referring to Rizzo, who is of Cuban descent and speaks Spanish. “We have a very diverse group of players and a diverse fan group, and we want the fans to be able to relate to the people in the booth and our people in the booth to be able to relate to the people on the pitch. “
The main pioneer of female broadcast in baseball is Suzyn Waldman, a regular analyst for the Yankees radio shows since 2005. She made her first radio game in 1992 between the Mets and the Houston Astros, and in both. years, she announced televised matches.
She said she has been waiting for years for the next wave of female broadcasters to join her, but it has taken longer than she originally expected. She is excited for next week’s telecast, but is unable to log in as she has her own game to stream for WFAN.
“I can’t wait to see when this is no longer a novelty,” said Waldman. “It’s a big deal and I’m glad it’s happening, but I can’t wait for it to be completely normal. You would have thought this would have happened before.
But Waldman sees progress. She said she was in touch with half a dozen women who currently broadcast minor league games, and that she hoped more stations and teams would be willing to feature all-female broadcast teams and to allow them to grow in roles, like the Yankees did with her.
Newman, Rizzo, and Langs all named Waldman as a role model, noting that his success made it easy for all of them and others. Langs, who was previously an on-screen analyst for two MLB games, grew up in New York and heard from Waldman on the air.
Langs knows that on Tuesday little girls can tune in to see and hear an all-female team of broadcasters talk about baseball and share their expertise.
“If hearing and seeing us inspires one more girl, one more young woman to play sports,” Langs said, “I’ll feel like it’s a mission accomplished.”
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