Last October, we wrote about Jessica Mendoza slaying while making history as the first woman to broadcast a nationally televised MLB postseason game. Now, she will remain in the booth with Dan Shulman and Aaron Boone for Sunday Night Baseball broadcasts this upcoming season.
In a New York Times article, Richard Sandomir sheds some light on the former Olympic outfielder’s rise to broadcast brilliance.
Sandomir describes the 35-year-old California native as the “intense daughter of a first-generation Mexican-American father.” He writes of her dad Gil videotaping her at-bat in softball from a very early age. “His tripod was out all the time. I wanted to get some swings in, and he wanted to videotape us,” Mendoza commented.
At-bat analysis (with her father, at Stanford, and in the Olympics and the pros) eventually formed the basis and bridge that Mendoza needed to make it to the big leagues. Ask anyone – she simply slays.
“I can watch her break down Josh Hamilton and the small hitch in his swing, and I’m thinking that that’s perfect,” said Tim Walton, her coach in the National Pro Fastpitch League a few years back. Her gift was (and will continue to be) glaringly obvious, but producer Phil Orlins warned her that in order to “differentiate yourself and make an impact – no matter if you break down a swing from the sideline – you’ll still be a female on the sideline. To really make a difference, to make a breakthrough, it has to be in the booth.”
“Society says this is how it should be, that baseball should be called by a man,” Mendoza told Sandomir. “Any change gets you resistance – ‘No, I want things to be the way they are.’”
But despite this resistance, she knew that the booth was where she belonged. “I would have been shocked if they said that you’ll just come in and out next year. I deserve to be here on a consistent basis.” Maybe a moment as powerful as the first time her father said he was proud of her as a freshman in college. “I could have retired that day. It was better than a gold medal.” For us, hearing her voice – one of the first that female fans can identify with, bringing us closer to the games we love – is worth gold.