San Diego Padres: Put a woman in the booth
Like every other team in MLB, the San Diego Padres obviously believe women belong on the sidelines occasionally but never in the booth as an actual broadcaster. Locally, the glass ceiling for those positions remains totally intact.
Jenny Cavnar briefly breached the glass when she hosted pre- and postgame coverage for the local club. But she moved on and made history in 2015 with the Colorado Rockies when she became the first female broadcaster to call a National League game on radio. She now hosts that team’s television pregame and postgame shows.
This year, Michelle Margaux, the only female allowed near television or radio broadcasts for the Padres, hosts Padres POV. Unfortunately, the show has next to nothing to do with the actual sport. Although the team has a hired at least 10 females in the past five years, mainly as sideline reporters, none have stayed long. When Kris Budden, now a sideline reporter for college football games, held the position with Fox Sports in San Diego, she even felt compelled to hide her pregnancy.
“You feel that you have to be pretty, skinny, best-dressed, ageless.” Budden writes on her website touchdownsandtantrums.com. “It’s no secret that there aren’t as many women in sports in their 40s.”
Obviously, male broadcasters do not have to adhere to any such standards of appearance, weight or perpetual youth. Meanwhile, women not meeting the standards don’t get a second glance.
One avenue to the broadcast booth, playing professional baseball, may always be blocked to females. But most male announcers took other routes to the microphone, including arguably the best of all time, the Dodgers’ Vin Scully who retired last year.
Another hurdle lies in the attitudes of a certain segment of the male baseball audience. When ESPN hired Jessica Mendoza to replace Curt Schilling after he posted an anti-Muslim meme in 2015, FIREDIPOTO protested on Twitter “Let me ask you this ESPN, what are her credentials? Has she ever wore a MLB uniform?” No she hasn’t “wore” an MLB uniform, but neither have Padres’ broadcasters Ted Leitner, Jesse Agler or Don Orsillo.
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Baseball may have been around since the late 1800s, but it wasn’t until 1987 that Gayle Gardner broke through the glass ceiling to become the first female to make regular appearances on a network broadcast. She also made the jump to play-by-play in 1993 during a game between the Cincinnati Reds and Colorado Rockies.
Other women have also made history in various broadcast capacities. Currently, however, no team in all of baseball employs a female as either a regular play-by-play or color announcer.
The dearth of female announcers flies in the face of the statistics. According to a Nielsen poll in 2014, 35 percent of fans of all sports are females. The following year Mark Fidelman wrote in Forbes that “female fans have been increasing in numbers, becoming more vocal online, and Major League Baseball teams have responded.”
Next: 2017 All minor league team
The Padres so far have not responded. However, hiring a female broadcaster would certainly get the attention of a growing, but largely ignored, segment of the local fan base. After all, men don’t have an automatic monopoly on knowledge, passion, and opinions about the game.