SARASOTA, FLA. — Melanie Newman carved out her own small piece of Orioles history Monday when she broadcast the spring training game against the Tampa Bay Rays, making her the first woman to call a game from the booth in club history.
For someone whose career in baseball brought her to Ed Smith Stadium inputting information for MLB Advanced Media in spring training in the past, the setting is familiar. It’s the job that’s going to take some getting used to.
“It still doesn’t feel real just yet,” said Newman, one of several additions to the Orioles’ 19-person broadcasting crew this year.
“Being here feels like an everyday thing. Actually being able to get up in the booth is a whole different beats in itself.”
Newman, who spent last year as the lead broadcaster for High-A Salem in the Red Sox organization and has broadcast for the Texas Rangers’ and Arizona Diamondbacks’ Double-A affiliates in Frisco, Texas, and Mobile, Alabama, respectively.
At this point, half of Newman’s responsibilities for the broadcast team will be on radio, with over 50 games in the booth and 50 games as part of the television broadcast on Mid-Atlantic Sports Network (MASN).
Her addition to the Orioles’ broadcasting group comes at a time when women are still scarce inside the broadcast booth, even if they’re part of radio and television as sideline reporters. She was part of the first all-female minor league broadcast team with Salem in 2019, and said she only found out then she was one of six women calling games in the minors with Colorado’s Jenny Cavnar and New York Yankees broadcaster Suzyn Waldman the only ones carrying that flag in the majors.
Until then, she said, she was “the ostrich in the sand” as to the representation of women in baseball’s broadcast booths.
“My parents never told me this was different,” Newman said. “I was just doing what I knew I was good at, what I was put on the earth to do, and I enjoyed it. I was really fortunate to have clubs that have backed me up and made me feel the same.
“It is really lucky that it gets to bring light to it, the fact that females can do this job as well, because I don’t even want my gender to be the reason I have a job. I get that it’s a factor and it’s going to make younger generations look up and say, ‘Hey, I can do that.’ That’s for both boys and girls. There are guys who are pursuing fields that have been largely dominated by women for years. I want that awareness to be brought, that our gender, our race, really anything else shouldn’t have an effect on the job we’re supposed to do as long as we’re good at that job.”
Hardy reports as guest instructor
Former Orioles shortstop J.J. Hardy arrived for his first day as a guest instructor in Sarasota on Monday to a familiar place at the team’s spring training home, even if many of the faces have changed.
“It totally is different,” said Hardy, who threw out a ceremonial first pitch to former teammate Chris Davis and will be with the Orioles the rest of the week. “Coaching staff, front office — I mean, everything has changed in two years. It doesn’t quite feel the same. This is the first time I’m around, but the atmosphere — baseball, the guys, just the whole camaraderie in the clubhouse, all that stuff is the same.”
That, Hardy said, is what he misses the most. He spends his days with his two young children and said he has taken up racquetball, pickleball, cycling, and woodworking since he last played for the Orioles in 2017.
Hardy said he signed on as a guest instructor to keep himself in the game for a possible coaching job down the line, and said he wanted to learn about infield defense analytics from assistant general manager Sig Mejdal.
But putting the uniform pants on didn’t rustle up any desire to play again, he said.
“I don’t miss the way my body felt and the travel and I remind myself all the time,” Hardy said. “I wake up in the middle of the night and go [to the bathroom] and I’m not crawling to the toilet. I’m actually able to walk and not be hurting, or I go on a hike and I’m walking down the mountain and it’s like, ‘Crap, my knees won’t hurt.’ I feel like I got 18 years younger when I retired.”
Around the horn
>> Right fielder Trey Mancini hasn’t been feeling well and was only meant to have two at-bats Monday, manager Brandon Hyde said.
>> Hyde said right-hander Alex Cobb is on schedule to start the season after throwing around 50 pitches in a simulated game Sunday. He’ll pitch in a simulated game setting again Friday before pitching in a game again, Hyde said.
Latest Baltimore Orioles
>> Left-hander Tommy Milone was scheduled to pitch Tuesday at the Washington Nationals, but instead will be held back in Sarasota to pitch a simulated game while left-hander Ty Blach starts. Left-hander Wade LeBlanc is scheduled to start Wednesday at the Miami Marlins.