MASN and Orioles Radio Network broadcaster Melanie Newman made baseball history recently, as she was part of the first all-female broadcast team to call a game.
Newman (play-by-play) joined Sarah Langs (color analyst) and Alanna Rizzo (on-field reporter) in calling Orioles-Rays July 20 as part of MLB’s YouTube Game of the Week, while Heidi Watney and Lauren Gardner handled pre- and postgame duties. Everyone worked out of MLB Network’s Secaucus, N.J., headquarters except for Rizzo, who was at the game.
Newman had broadcasted a YouTube Game of the Week in June featuring the Texas Rangers and Oakland Athletics. In doing so, Newman became the second woman ever to be the play-by-play voice for a nationally broadcast MLB game.
The 30-year-old was quickly told that she would announce another game, and she hoped it would be a matchup involving the Orioles. That ended up being Orioles-Rays, and leading up to the game, Newman was notified of who she’d be working with.
When looking through the names, Newman immediately noticed one thing — the group was all women.
“I looked at the names, and they were all women — and that kind of took a moment for me to register on my own in the back of my head that it was only women,” Newman said on Glenn Clark Radio July 22. “And then, obviously, the news broke — and it’s just been really incredible to see since then.”
And she wouldn’t trade it for anything.
Newman explained how the players involved in the contest made the experience even more special. During the game, Orioles outfielder Anthony Santander chimed in after teammate Kelvin Guttierez informed him that this was the first time that the entire broadcast team was all women.
“Women have to continue to carve out their place,” Santander said in Spanish. “They are already way smarter than we are anyway.”
The moments go beyond that one. Rays pitcher Rich Hill congratulated the ladies for their accomplishment during an in-game interview. Newman says players “see the moment and recognize what we’ve been doing as well.”
“To see from your own players is a really gratifying feeling that I can’t even begin to explain,” Newman said of the Santander video. “Not because you want the recognition, but because having that moment between an athlete and the people who cover them, it just kind of shows you that they do [appreciate] the job that we do. … It takes you a step back because that’s not their job to pay attention to us, it’s the other way around.”
Newman became a member of the Orioles’ broadcast team in 2020. She became the first woman to call an Orioles game as part of the radio broadcast on Aug. 4, 2020. She previously worked for the High-A Salem Red Sox and the Double-A Frisco RoughRiders.
Newman grew up in Atlanta, where baseball is considered “a way of life,” according to the broadcaster. She grew up around people who played the sport year-round as well as the nearby Braves. Newman explained how baseball was essentially “embedded into your culture.”
With such an atmosphere, Newman began to gravitate toward baseball and soon became enamored with the game. She could be found attending games with her family.
Although she loved the game, Newman never considered the possibility of making a career out of the sport until her time at Troy University, when she switched from print journalism to broadcast journalism. Play-by-play has traditionally been a male-dominated occupation, but women like Newman have opened doors.
“It’s really cool now to see just how much that’s changed,” Newman said. “And really, honestly, the most gratifying part of all this is getting the messages from parents and from younger girls and even younger boys as well — that their minds have been opened up to things and the realization of, ‘I could do that too.’ That’s where we should really be as a society overall — is really not qualifying someone’s ability to do a job on their race or their gender.”
For more from Newman, listen to the full interview here:
Photo Credit: Courtesy of the Baltimore Orioles