Melanie Newman made history earlier this season when she was part of Major League Baseball's first all-women's broadcast. On Wednesday, the Baltimore Orioles announcer will receive a bigger national stage when she teams up with Jessica Mendoza on ESPN.
Newman and Mendoza will call a key NL West matchup between the San Diego Padres and Los Angeles Dodgers. The Dodgers have already wrapped up a postseason spot, but went into Tuesday two games behind San Francisco for the top spot in the division with six games remaining.
Newman said she was focused on her second season doing play-by-play on radio and television for the Baltimore Orioles when the additional opportunities to call games nationally came.
“I knew I had a full season with the Orioles, we were going to bounce back and forth with TV and radio and it was going to be a great time. So when these other opportunities started coming along, it was really cool,” she said. “It just makes it all the more fun when you don’t expect it and you don’t set yourself up for those type of situations.”
Newman — who called games in the minors for six seasons before going to Baltimore — became just the second woman to do play-by-play for a nationally broadcast game on June 22 when the Oakland Athletics faced the Texas Rangers on YouTube's MLB Game of the Week. Longtime New York Yankees announcer Suzyn Waldman was the first during games on The Baseball Network in 1994-95.
On July 20, Newman joined Sarah Langs, Alanna Rizzo, Heidi Watney and Lauren Gardner for the first national all-female broadcast.
ESPN tried to look for opportunities to have Newman call some games earlier in the season, but wasn't able to make it work until now. Newman also did the Sept. 22 matchup between San Diego and San Francisco on ESPN with Doug Glanville.
Newman and Mendoza both said that they found out about being paired on Wednesday like they would other assignments — very matter of fact without a lot of meetings.
“It wasn't like it was made internally to be this huge deal, more just two women that we feel like are doing a good job and we want to put them both on the same broadcast,” said Mendoza, who is in her seventh season as an MLB analyst on ESPN.
Newman first got the opportunity to meet Mendoza two years ago during the Washington Nationals' postseason run. Even though the game does have pennant race implications, Newman plans on handling the broadcast the same way she does every game.
“I just think that speaks again to the fact that they’re not really placing any type of kid gloves on the situation as well, you know, it’s women. They’re going to give us the game just like they assign men the games,” she said. "The fact that it happens to be potentially playoff impacting. it’s kind of second nature to it.
“I’m definitely excited, especially after being in the American League East all season. Getting to jump from one of the most exciting postseason races right into the other one (in the NL West). Those divisions have been the two storylines all year. Getting to play a very small piece in both of those this season, I feel really fortunate.”
With the season concluding on Sunday, Newman will head to her offseason home in Georgia before preparing for the start of next season.
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