On July 20, 2021, history was made in Major League Baseball announcing: an all-women announcing crew called the Tampa Bay Rays versus Baltimore Orioles over a live YouTube stream. The five-women team gave the play-by-play of the baseball game, with Melanie Newman, broadcaster for the Orioles, Sarah Langs providing analysis, Heidi Watney and Lauren Gardner hosting the pre-and post-game coverage, and Alanna Rizzo as the on-field reporter throughout.
Women have been in the mix of broadcast and reporting for major league sports in the USA for years, but the field remains dominated by men. “We’re not alone in saying that it’s surprising that it has taken this long for it to open up a little bit more in terms of diversity,” Newman says. The NHL, NBA and NFL have already had all-women crews presenting and calling games in the past. “It’s crazy that we’re still doing all these firsts. I feel like that’s been most of my career has been first female this, first female that. But the good thing about it is we’re not the last.”
Each sportscast team member has earned her place on the team with long-standing roles in the sports reporting world. Newman, the play-by-play radio announcer for the Orioles was “called up to the majors” last year after putting in time as a minor league announcer. Langs has been writing for MLB.com for years, and Rizzo, Watney and Gardner are on-air for the MLB network.
Newman told NPR, “We were the kids that wanted to pay attention. We wanted to know everything and be a part of everything and ask as many questions as we could.”
Before the game, the MLB network tweeted, “It’s not a novelty, it’s about normalcy” in response to the publicity for the event and history-making moment in baseball history. “At some point soon, I think we’re on our way to this just being a normal day in a broadcast,” Newman added.