It wasn’t what happened on the field during the Baltimore Orioles game against the Tampa Bay Rays on Tuesday that has people talking.
The matchup marked the first time a Major League Baseball game broadcast featured solely women.
Melanie Newman did the play-by-play, while Sarah Langs provided color commentary. Alanna Rizzo served as on-field reporter and Heidi Watney and Lauren Gardner handled the pregame and postgame shows.
Watney said they were surprised by all the attention the broadcast was getting before the game was played.
“I sent a little text out to everyone and said, ‘Just remember, you’re here because you love the game,’” she said Wednesday on TODAY. “And that’s what fans want to see, the joy you have for the sport that they love.”
Newman said she hasn’t had a chance to reflect on the moment, since she’s in the middle of a quick turnaround, with the Orioles playing again Wednesday afternoon.
“After the final out today, I might finally get some time to really digest it and look back at it,” Newman said.
“It hasn’t fully hit yet, but I’m excited to be able to look back at it,” she added.
Rizzo was acutely aware of what she and her colleagues accomplished, and that it showed young girls men’s sports broadcasting was field they can enter.
“I think that it’s so important for us to recognize the moment of, we have an important job to do and we have an opportunity to be able to open some doors for some young women that may not have realized that this was in fact a career path and a choice that they could do,” she said.
She also said she’d like to come to a point where no one thinks twice when seeing women working a baseball game.
- Watch TODAY All Day! Get the best news, information and inspiration from TODAY, all day long.
“At the end of the day, the five of us, collectively, have earned this right,” she said. “We have the résumés to be there and, at some point, we need to take gender out of the equation and just say, ‘You know what? This is a quality broadcast team, not a quality female broadcast team.’”
Gardner was also quick to thank the men who helped them all get to where they are today.
“We’d be remiss if we didn’t acknowledge the men who empowered us and supported us along the way, whether they were in positions of power or they were fellow colleagues,” she said. “We kind of call them our guardian angels. And I was always making sure that I would pass that along and pay it forward, but it was a lot of those people.”
Langs noted that her parents are huge sports fans, and her mother wanted to be an announcer.
“She wanted to do that, but at the time when she was young, that was not really a realistic career path,” she said.
“It turns out I’m living out her dream,” she added.
The all-female broadcast is the latest step for women in baseball. Kim Ng became the first woman to serve as general manager when she took over the role for the Miami Marlins. Newman says the world is ready for more inclusion.
“That ratio of positivity has just so far outgained what used to be pretty negative and, quite frankly, an ignorant reaction when it was negative, to our presence in the sport,” she said. “And so it’s really cool just to see that turning the tide and moving forward.”