Jessica Mendoza, First Woman to Call a Nationally Televised MLB Playoff Game, Speaks Out About Sexist Backlash
Jessica Mendoza made history Tuesday night as the first female to call a nationally televised Major League Baseball playoff game.
But in the male-dominated world of professional sports, not everyone was pleased.
Mendoza, a two-time Olympic gold medalist as part of the Team USA softball team, endured a sexist social media backlash after she called the Astros-Yankees American League Wild Card game for ESPN – but refuses to let the haters cloud her hard-won achievement.
“Any time there is a change, there’s normally a lot of resistance. I think the [thing I was most] excited about was the aftermath and how much support there really was,” she said on Good Morning America Thursday.
The former Stanford University All-American faced similar backlash when she became the first woman in the booth for an ESPN MLB broadcast in August during a match-up between the Arizona Diamondbacks and the St. Louis Cardinals, per The Huffington Post.
Mendoza got her big break in the booth after fellow sportscaster and former MLB pitcher Curt Schilling was suspended for an anti-Muslim tweet, GMA reports. She became a regular analyst on ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball last month.
But Tuesday’s game put Mendoza on her biggest stage to date, and the new role did not sit well with Atlanta sports radio host Mike Bell, who was one of many who lashed out against her on Twitter.
“Really? A women’s softball slugger as guest analyst on MLB Wildcard Game? Once again ESPN too frigging cute for their own good,” he wrote in one of several tweets that had many Mendoza fans rushing to her defense.
Bell eventually apologized and was suspended for two weeks over the tweets. Mendoza, meanwhile, says she’s taking the high road.
“I accept his apology,” she told GMA, explaining that she hasn’t even read the tweets . “Just before I was going to click on it, I thought, ‘You know, Why?’ Why even give it the attention?”
As ESPN continues to support its rising star, Mendoza says she’s looking forward to a time in professional sports broadcasting where women are judged on their merit – not their gender.
“Yes, I am a female, but I want it to get to the point where, let’s think about what I am saying, what I am doing, and not so much the sex that I am,” she said.
“I want to get to a point when we hear a female voice on NBA, NFL, or just anything in men’s sports, and it is like, ‘Sweet. She’s doing a good job.’ “