For a sport that has over a century of history as America's national pastime, Major League Baseball is still seeing firsts occur and history be made to this very day. On Tuesday, a major milestone for both baseball broadcasting and women in sports will occur in a midseason matchup between two teams in the AL East.
According to a report by the New York Times, five women will serve as the on-air broadcast team a game between the Baltimore Orioles and Tampa Bay Rays on July 20, marking the first time an all-women team has handled the entire broadcast for a Major League game.
Orioles radio play-by-play announcer Melanie Newman will be on the call for the game, with MLB.com writer Sarah Langs serving as the color analyst. Alana Rizzo will be the on-field reporter, with Heidi Watney and Lauren Gardner anchoring both pre and post-game coverage.
The all-female commentary team will be serving on a prominent matchup, as the Orioles and the Rays will be playing in the MLB Game of the Week on YouTube. While female commentators have become commonplace at both the major and minor league levels, this marks what is believed to be the first time an all-female crew has called a game at the Major League level.
"It can't help but feel different," Rizzo told the Times. "I've always had a male play-by-play voice in my ear during every game I've ever done. So, to do a game where those voices are Melanie and Sarah, that will be a unique feeling and a unique perspective of the game. It's exciting to be a part of something like this."
Newman, who is one of four female play-by-play broadcasters in the MLB, has served as a driving force behind the all-female commentary crew. MLB chief revenue officer Noah Garden stated that the plan for the all-female team came about after Newman served as the play-by-play announcer for a national game on YouTube last month. Moving forward, the league plans to have all-female booths become a more standard part of the game.
The Orioles and the Rays are a pair of teams at completely different ends of the spectrum within the AL East. The Rays currently sit second at 53-37 and are 1.5 games back of the first place Boston Red Sox, while the Orioles rank last at a lowly 28-61.