Women Who Announce Baseball Games


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Photo by Barthy Bonhomme on Pexels.com

On March 10, 1993, Sherry Davis became the first full-time female major league public address announcer. The San Francisco Giants hired her after an open audition of 500 applicants. Davis, a Virginia native, had graduated from the College of Notre Dame in Maryland, earning her B.A. in Theater. She performed at the Norfolk Theater Center in Virginia from 1968 to 1976. Prior to working for the Giants, Davis was a legal secretary in Walnut Creek, California. She earned $75 per game.

Prior to Davis’ debut, Kelly Saunders was a substitute PA announcer for the Baltimore Orioles in June 1992 when regular announcer, Rex Barney, was recuperating from an illness. Saunders was the second female fill-in announcer after Joy Hawkins McCabe had announced one game for the Washington Senators in 1966.

The second full-time female PA announcer for an MLB team – and first African American PA announcer – was Leslie Sterling, who worked for the Boston Red Sox from 1994 to 1996. Sterling, a Harvard graduate, grew up in Washington, DC, as a Senators Fan. After leaving the Red Sox in 1996, Serling went to She entered Harvard’s Divinity School and is became the rector at St. Bartholomew’s Episcopal Church in Cambridge.

When the Giants moved out of Candlestick Park in 2000, they did not renew Sherry Davis’ contract. Instead, they hired Renel Brooks-Moon. Brooks-Moon was born in Oakland, California, in 1958. She attended Mills College, where she earned her B.A. in English in 1981. In addition to being the Giants PA announcer, she also worked for radio station KISQ. She became the first female announcer of a championship game in a professional sport during the 2002 World Series.

In 2018, Marysol Castro became the first female PA announcer for the New York Mets, as well as the first Latina PA announcer and third female PA announcer in MLB. She began her career as an English teacher before attending Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism. Prior to the Mets, she worked for ABC, CBS, and ESPN.

In addition to these stadium announcers, there only one female baseball broadcaster on national television. Jessica Mendoza became the first female commentator for a MLB game in 2015, and in 2016 she joined the ESPN Sunday Night Baseball team full-time as a color analyst. Just last week it was announced that the Mets had hired Mendoza as a baseball operations advisor; she will also continue broadcasting Sunday night games for ESPN.

Few women have done play-by-play announcing for baseball. In 1993, Gayle Gardner became the first woman to do so when she called a Reds-Rockies game. Las year, Jenny Cavnar became the second woman play-by-play announcer when she did the play-by-play for the Rockies on AT&T SportsNet.

In the 1990s in the minors, Lisa Fielding, was the PA announcer for the Rockford Cubbies of the Midwest League and Lisa Morris was the announcer for the New York-Penn League’s Hudson Valley Renegades. In 2013, the Lansing Lugnuts hired Michigan State sophomore Jennifer Swanchara as their PA announcer in 2013. Currently, the Beloit Snappers have PA announcer Chrissy Scaffidi and the Bowie Baysox have Adrienne Roberson. Roberson gets the occasional “call up” to the Orioles, such as for the Mother’s Day game.

Later this month, we’ll take a look at women announcing baseball on radio.

~ baseballrebecca

 

 

 

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Films on Friday: Let’s Go Mets


Thirty-two years ago, the New York Mets released their official theme song for their run to the 1986 World Series, Let’s Go Mets. The video for the song included Mets players, bobbleheads, and Joe Piscopo, among others. The song itself became a gold record and the video went triple platinum. Of course, let’s not forget it was the follow-up to their first non-award winning tune, Get Metsmerized.

Happy Friday!

~ baseballrebecca

Breaking the Color Barrier in Detroit


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Ozzie Virgil (photo courtesy of Michigan State University Libraries)

Sixty years ago today, Ozzie Virgil, Sr., became the first Black player (and first Latino) to play for the Detroit Tigers. Eleven years after Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in Major League Baseball, the Tigers were the second-to-last team to integrate. (The Boston Red Sox would be the final team to integrate when Pumpsie Green played his first game for the Red Sox on July 21, 1959.) Virgil was also the first Dominican player in Major League Baseball, when he debuted with the New York Giants on September 23, 1956.

Osvaldo Jose Virgil Pichardo was born on May 17, 1932, in Monte Cristi, Dominican Republic. He emigrated to the United States with his family when he was 13 years old. After high school, Virgil joined the Marines, serving from 1950 to 1952. In 1953, he began his professional baseball career with the St. Cloud Rox of the Northern League, the Class C minor league affiliate of the New York Giants. Virgil would spend four seasons in the minors before making his debut with the Giants in September 1956.

On January 28, 1958, the New York Giants traded Virgil to the Detroit Tigers. He started the season with the Tigers’ AAA affiliate, the Charleston Senators. There he hit .293 with 34 RBI, 4 home runs, 5 triples, and 9 doubles in 47 games. His debut with the Tigers occurred on June 6, 1958, against the Washington Senators in Washington, DC. His first home game was June 17, 1958, also against the Washington Senators. He went 5-for-5 that day and later recalled receiving a standing ovation from the crowd.

Virgil ultimately played nine years in the major leagues, also playing for the Kansas City Athletics (1961), Baltimore Orioles (1962), Pittsburgh Pirates (1965), and San Francisco Giants (1966, 1969) (he spent 1963-64  and 1967-68 in the minors). He played his final game at the age of 37 on June 27, 1969. His career batting average was .231 with 14 home runs and 73 RBI.

Virgil’s son, Ozzie Virgil, Jr., made his major league debut on October 5, 1980, and spent 10 years in the majors. In recent years Ozzie Sr. has worked with players at the Mets’ Dominican Republic baseball academy and as a minor league coordinator. Today Virgil serves as Special Catching Instructor for the New York Mets.

~ baseballrebecca

 

 

RIP Rusty Staub, Philanthropist and Ballplayer


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Rusty Staub (photo courtesy of Catholic Charities of New York)

NBC Washington’s headline read, “Ex-Mets Star, Philanthropist Rusty Staub Dies on Opening Day.” The Rapid City Journal (Rapid City, SD) announced, “Rusty Staub, Mets legend and humanitarian, dies at 73.” These headlines summed up some of his contributions to society, but not all.

Daniel Joseph Staub was born on April 1, 1944, in New Orleans, LA. A 6-time All-Star, Staub played in the major leagues for 23 years. He made his Major League debut with the Houston Colt .45s on April 9, 1963, at the age of 19. In 1969, he was traded to the Montreal Expos for their inaugural season. Staub would play in Montreal through the 1975 season, where he would learn the French language and earn the nickname “Le Grand Orange.”

Staub was traded to the New York Mets for the 1972 season, where he again embraced his surroundings and became an important part of the community. He played for Detroit (1976-1979), Montreal again (1979), and Texas (1980), before returning to the Mets in 1981. After his retirement in 1985, Staub opened a second restaurant in Manhattan, Rusty Staub’s on 5th and became a member of the Mets’ broadcasting team. His many baseball honors include:

  • Inducted into the New York Mets Hall of Fame in 1986
  • Jersey number – no. 10 – retired by the Montreal Expos in 1993
  • Inducted into the Texas Sports Hall of Fame in 2006
  • Inducted into the Canadian Hall of Fame in 2012

34812681340_0e2da1b117_zAfter his retirement from the Mets, Staub established the Rusty Staub Foundation, whose mission is “to give children the opportunity to live full, happy and productive lives and to give aid to the hungry.” The Foundation provides approximately 826,000 meals every year through its food pantries in Harlem, Brooklyn, and Queens; a mobile unit that delivers food to the the Bronx and Staten Island; and the he Rusty Staub Foundation Community Dining Room.  The Foundation partners with other organizations that share its focus, including Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New York.

In 1986, Staub also founded the New York Police and Fire Widows’ and Children’s Benefit Fund. The mission of the Fund is to provide “financial assistance and a network of support to the families of NYC police officers, firefighters, port authority police officers, and EMS personnel killed in the line of duty.” Families of fallen first responders are initially provided $25,000 to help with immediate needs after the tragedy. Each widow or widower also receives an annual stipend from the Fund for the remainder of his or her life. Families are invited to be part of the Fund’s community, which offers social gatherings and support to its members.

We will never forget your contributions to baseball and the community, Rusty. Thank you and rest in peace.

~ baseballrebecca

The Bobble Belly


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Image courtesy of Clark Toys.

Remember that home run from a few weeks ago? THE home run? The first career home run for Bartolo Colon? Well, it’s now been memorialized in a bobble head. Or, rather, a bobble head AND belly. (Also referred to as a bobble stomach and a bobble gut.)

Yep. You read that correctly. It was reported on Friday that Clark Toys is offering a commemorative bobble of the event where both the head and stomach bobble. Cool. I SO need one!

 

 

In case you haven’t seen enough of it, here’s the video:

 

 

Happy Monday!

~ baseballrebecca

Baseball Farms


Baysox' Machado GnomeWith it’s pastoral imagery, re-birth in spring, farm teams, and garden gnome giveaways, the connection between baseball and agriculture would seem to be obvious. The other day, ThinkProgress.org posted an article on Major League Baseball and the urban farming trend. According to the article, five MLB teams currently have gardens in their stadiums:

  • Red Sox: Dubbed “Fenway Farms,” a 5,000 square rooftop farm grows on the roof behind Gate A of Fenway Park. Planted there are: kale, sweet peppers, a “rotating lineup of seasonal vegetables,” and herbs.
  • Rockies: The Coors Field GaRden, also near Gate A, is a joint venture between the Rockies and Colorado State University. Plants in this 600 square foot garden include: Purple Viking potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, turnips, chard, kale, beans, and chives, as well as herbs such as parsley, thyme, basil, cilantro, dill, oregano and sage.
  • Padres: For the last four years, the Director of Field Operations at Petco Pak has grown a variety of plants in the home and visitors’ bullpens, including: peppers, blueberries, avocados, pomegranates, lettuce, beets, onions, garlic, carrots, and radishes.
  • Giants: The Garden at AT&T Park is a 4,320 square foot area whec12d51868f6da4a15c087f5bb547dceare the team grows a variety of fruits and veggies, such as: blueberries, strawberries, avocados, tomatoes, peppers, squash, lettuce, lemons, and kale.
  • Nationals: For the 2015 season, the Washington Nationals have piloted a program at their ballpark with 180 plants to grow tomatoes, zucchini, squash and herbs. The team says if it is successful, they will expand the garden in the future.

There are other interesting agricultural connections to baseball. Apparently the New York Mets were the first to plant a garden. As the story goes, a stray tomato plant grew in the Mets’ bullpen in Shea Stadium in 1969. Since it apparently brought the team some luck – and the pennant – the groundskeeper kept planting in hopes of a future Mets winnning seasons. The Orioles’ Memorial Stadium also was a good place to grow tomatoes, though ivy didn’t do too well at Camden Yards.

In 2012, the Fresno Grizzlies established the Grizzlies Community Fund’s Farm Grown program to promote Central California agriculture. The team hosts a farmer’s market during every Friday home game. The program also includes a literacy component for children as well as agricultural exhibits and displays.

And of course, the St. Paul Saints, always a little different, have corn-themed foul poles in their stadium. The team that once had ears of corn as a promotional giveaway teamed up this year with the Minnesota Corn Growers Association (MCGA) to feature the state’s largest crop on the stadium’s foul poles. In addition, MCGA signage is featured on the outfield walls and throughout the season the Saints will play “the world’s largest game of corn toss” between innings. And on July 25, the MCGA is sponsoring a mini bat giveaway for the first 1,000 fans.

Happy farming!

~ baseballrebecca

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Missing Montreal


Expos Day, July 12, 2014. Photo courtesy of ExposNation.

Expos Day, July 12, 2014. Photo courtesy of ExposNation.

A funny thing happened at the ballpark the other day – we kept seeing Expos fans. Now, this is not an uncommon experience at Nationals Park, home of the Washington Nationals (who were once the Montreal Expos). But in New York? When the Mets weren’t even playing the Nats?

Aside from the unusual concentration of Expos hats, jerseys, and tees in the stands, there were also occasional chants of “Let’s Go Expos!” Again, since they weren’t playing the Nats, we were very confused.

It is here where my typical U.S. ignorance of Canada comes into play. Besides pining for their wayward Expos, Canadian baseball fans are pretty darn organized and quite determined to do something about their loss. I had no idea. And it turns out that July 12 was “Expos Day.” The Mets even had a special page on their website for purchasing tickets to the event.

There are at least two official organizations that have been created to keep the memory of Montreal baseball alive and bring a team back to the city. ExposNation, a non-profit organization, states it is officially recognized by the Baseball Hall of Fame and the Major League Players Alumni Association. They sponsor Expos Day and other events. They have worked closely with other entities, such as the Montreal Baseball Project and Baseball Canada in their efforts to bring baseball back to Montreal.

The goal of the Montreal Baseball Project is “to build upon the recent groundswell of demand for baseball in Montreal and deliver a team back to the community.” The organization is led by Warren Cromartie, who played for the Expos between 1974 and 1983. Last year, the organization, along with Montreal’s Board of Trade, sponsored a feasibility study to determine whether a new MLB team in Montreal would be financially viable. The answer was yes, but it would cost about $1.025 billion ($525 million to acquire a team and another $500 million to build a stadium). The next steps are to develop a business plan and find local backers for the team.

Even MLB Commissioner Bud Selig acknowledged the work of groups in Montreal. Noting that 95,000 people attended the two exhibition games in Montreal this spring, Selig said, “‘They did very, very well. Very pleased and proud of what they have done.’”

I know that one of my greatest regrets as a baseball fan is not getting see a game at Olympic Stadium in Montreal. Sure, I got to Montreal in November 2004 and toured the stadium, but baseball was already gone. At least the Expos ended up in D.C. with me. But imagine how the typical Expos fan feels.  Now I feel a little guilty for being a Nats fan.

But only a little guilty…

~ baseballrebecca