Broadcast booth

Announcer’s historic night calling baseball game marred by pervasive sexism

On Tuesday night, Jessica Mendoza became the first woman in Major League Baseball history to call a nationally-televised broadcast of a post-season game. She worked alongside former MLB player John Kruk and Dan Shulman for ESPN’s broadcast of the Houston Astros-New York Yankees Wild Card game and was widely praised by colleagues for bringing a knowledgeable and authoritative voice to the broadcast. Mendoza, 34, is a two-time gold medal-winning softball player with Team USA and is considered one of the greatest to ever play the game, yet she’s still commonly subjected to questions about whether she possesses a deep enough knowledge of baseball to be announcing Major League games. In interviews, Mendoza generally shrugs off the sexist implications, but she notes that her college softball coach was a former baseball player and no one raised an issue about whether he was qualified to coach softball.

By and large, Mendoza was lauded for her historic performance on Tuesday night by colleagues in and around baseball. She was also a hot topic on Twitter, where many enjoyed the perspective and analysis she brought. Others were surprised that she was knowledgeable, like one man who wrote on Twitter, “Didn’t think I’d like this woman announcer but she actually makes a little sense when she talks lol.” Mike Bell, sports shock jock from Atlanta unleashed a series of nasty tweets about Mendoza. In one that’s been deleted, Bell said, “yes tell us Tits McGhee when you’re up there hitting a softball you see a lot of 95 mph cutters?” The remark is a joke lifted from the Will Ferrell farce Anchorman. Bell’s tweets caused almost instant outrage with the NFL’s Atlanta denouncing him on Twitter, writing, “Embarrassed by Mike Bell’s comments, given he’s on our flagship station. Inappropriate and disappointing.” On Wednesday, Bell was suspended for three days by his radio station, 92.9/The Game. He issued an obligatory apology saying, in part, “There is no place for that kind of stuff on my show.” Though ESPN won’t be broadcasting anymore baseball games this season, the network was happy with Mendoza’s work and plans to keep her around during the post-season for coverage on its popular Baseball Tonight show — so Mike Bell better believe his own apology.

Read the full story at The New York Times and Yahoo Sports.

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