An MLB Game Will Be Entirely Wanted By Women

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Next week, for the first time in a broadcast, Major League Baseball fans will be able to watch a game where they might not be able to hear a male voice. Five women, St. Petersburg’s Tampa Bay Rays vs. Baltimore Orioles game as the live broadcast team.

Melanie Newman, who has been the Orioles’ radio play-by-play anchor since last year, will be taking action for what will become the MLB Live Game of the Week on YouTube. Sarah Langs, a popular baseball analyst and MLB.com writer, will be the analyst at the booth. Alanna Rizzo will handle the field reporting, and Heidi Watney and Lauren Gardner will present the pre- and post-match shows.

“It just feels different,” Rizzo said in a phone call. “I always had a male voice in my ear in every game I played. So, making a game where these voices are Melanie and Sarah will be a unique feeling and a unique perspective of the game. It’s exciting to be a part of something like this.”

Women have been broadcasting radio and television baseball games for decades, but this is believed to be the first time an all-female team will handle the entire broadcast of a major league game.

Last year, two NHL games were screened in the United States and Canada with all-female broadcast and production teams. Broadcasts were presented with the participation of female speakers, 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 NBA’s Rudy Gobert tested positive for coronavirus, and from then most of the glow was consumed with the sport being discontinued over the next few days.

Hannah Storm and Andrea Kramer began streaming NFL games for Amazon Prime Video in 2018, and in March a five-woman team moderated an NBA game between the Toronto Raptors and Denver Nuggets. Major League Soccer broke the barrier in 2018 and now it’s baseball’s turn.

“This shows that the world has changed and the game is more accepting of different voices, different perspectives and perspectives,” said Rizzo. “This is no longer an all-man game 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 to the classroom so they could watch the first Rockies game. Later that year, Gayle Gardner became the first woman to air a televised match between the Colorado and Cincinnati Reds.

It took almost another thirty years for the publishers to assemble an all-female team.

“Having the first female label is something that has come up in my career,” Newman said, “that’s something I find very important. But while we achieve all these firsts here, we also want to make sure we are not the last.”

Growing up listening to Jim Fyffe on Auburn football radio broadcasts in Georgia, Newman searched for minor league baseball games on the radio for six years and was part of the first women’s broadcast of a minor league game with Suzie Cool for a Salem. Red Sox game in 2019. A year later, Newman became the voice of the Orioles radio broadcasts.

On June 22, Newman played the singles game of a national game between the Texas Rangers and Oakland Athletics on YouTube, and it went so well that it marked the beginning of a plan to create an all-female broadcast team. 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 background and diversity of women of color.

“This is very important and we have diversity in that,” said Rizzo, who is of Cuban descent and Spanish-speaking. “We have a diverse group of players and a diverse group of fans, and we want the fans to be able to relate to the people on the stand and our people at the stand to be able to relate to the people on the pitch.”

The leading pioneer for women in baseball broadcasting is Suzyn Waldman, who has been a regular analyst for Yankees radio broadcasts since 2005. He made his radio debut in 1992 between the Mets and the Houston Astros, and within two years announced televised games.

He said he had been waiting for years for the next wave of female broadcasters to join him, but that it took longer than he initially expected. He’s excited for next week’s release, but can’t adjust as he has his own game to release for WFAN.

“I look forward to the time when this is no longer a novelty thing,” Waldman said. “It’s a big event and I’m happy it’s happening, but I can’t wait for it to become normal. You would have thought it would happen by now.”

But Waldman is seeing progress. She said she is in touch with half a dozen women who are currently broadcasting matches in the minor leagues, and that she hopes more stations and teams will accommodate all-female broadcast teams and allow them to grow in their roles. Just like the Yankees did to him.

Newman, Rizzo, and Langs cited Waldman as a role model, noting that his success made it easy for all and others. Currently serving as a screen analyst at two MLB games, Langs grew up in New York City and listened to Waldman on the air.

Langs knows little girls can watch Tuesday to see and hear an all-female broadcast team talk about baseball and share their expertise.

“If hearing and seeing us inspires a girl, a young woman to start another sport,” Langs said, “I’ll feel like it’s a mission.”

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