Melanie Newman, Sarah Langs, Alanna Rizzo, Heidi Watney and Lauren Gardner took part in the broadcast for the Baltimore Orioles vs. Tampa Bay Rays game

By Rachel DeSantis
July 21, 2021 02:56 PM
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All women MLB broadcast crew
(L-R) Lauren Gardner, Sarah Langs, Melanie Newman, Heidi Watney
| Credit: Billy Lee/MLB Network

For the first time in MLB history, a baseball game was called by a broadcast team of all women — a historic moment that the group hopes will soon be nothing out of the ordinary.

When the Baltimore Orioles took on the Tampa Bay Rays Tuesday night in St. Petersburg, Florida, Melanie Newman did the play-by-play, Sarah Langs served as an analyst, and Alanna Rizzo was the reporter. Meanwhile, Heidi Watney and Lauren Gardner were co-hosts for the pre- and post-game shows.

"Representation is important in every role and my hope is for this broadcast to become commonplace in the future," Gardner, who works for MLB Network alongside Watney and Rizzo, said in a statement ahead of the game.

Gardner told MLB.com that when she first glanced at her schedule, she didn't realize she was about to be a part of history — but then an MLB Network public relations representative asked her for comment.

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"I [thought], 'This is awesome. Then someone said, 'You know, these are all women.' It took a minute for that to sink in, that we were going to be a part of history," she said.

All five women appeared on the Today show Wednesday morning, and Watney explained that they were "surprised" by the attention the broadcast received, as they're just doing their job.

All women MLB broadcast crew
Lauren Gardner and Heidi Watney
| Credit: Billy Lee/MLB Network

"I sent out a little text to everyone and said, 'Just remember. You're here because you love the game,'" she recalled to host Hoda Kotb. "And that's what fans want to see — the joy you have for the sport they love."

Despite their professionalism, the gravity of the moment was not lost on others, including tennis legend Billie Jean King, who tweeted about the broadcast, and Orioles players, who were heard discussing it in the dugout in a clip shared to Twitter by the league.

"That's very important. Women have to continue to carve out their place," outfielder Anthony Santander told a teammate. "They are already smarter than we are anyway."

Rizzo, who told The New York Times that she's had a male play-by-play voice in her ear for every single game she's ever reported, said she couldn't help but "feel different" about Tuesday's broadcast, which aired on YouTube as part of the MLB Game of the Week Live on YouTube series.

"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," she said. "It shows that the world is changing and it's more accepting of different voices and different looks and perspectives of the game. It's not an all-male game anymore, and we don't live in an all-male world."

Watney, too, emphasized the fact that baseball is for everyone.

"That's important for not just little girls to see, but little boys to see that it's normal, it doesn't matter your gender. It matters that you're passionate and [have] love for the sport, and your knowledge and your understanding of the sport," she told MLB.com. "It's important, but for me, it's going to be another day at work. It's prepping for the Rays and O's."

The first woman to broadcast a televised baseball game was Gayle Gardner in 1993, and the first all-female broadcast of a minor league game — which Newman was a part of — aired in 2019, according to The New York Times.

Noah Garden, MLB's chief revenue officer, told the Times that the league plans to feature all-female broadcast booths more regularly.