Melanie Newman becomes first woman to call an MLB game

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Troy Alumna Melanie Newman has made history again as the fourth active female play-by-play broadcaster in Major League Baseball and first in Orioles franchise history last Tuesday in Baltimore’s game against the Miami Marlins.

Newman was called up to the big leagues after a historic season in the minor league as part of the first all-female radio booth in baseball.

The news of the first all-female radio booth broke to the national level putting all eyes on Newman and color commenter Suzie Cool during the Salem Red Sox’s 2019 playoff run.

This momentous milestone in baseball caught the eye of Big League Chew Bubble Gum who sent Newman and Cool their own packages of bubble gum with a female player on it with a note the read:

“Congrats on becoming the 1stall-female broadcast booth in baseball history! Women like you are the paving the way for young girls who are dreaming big and playing hard — so thank you! We hope you enjoy our new pouch. Best of luck this season!”

“I knew that the all-female booth hadn’t happened before, but I didn’t think it would go viral,” Newman said. “My phone shut down on multiple occasions from all the texts and emails.

“It blew me away. I wanted to give credit to the guys and not on me.”

However, just how successful the team could be was not evident from the beginning. Salem began the season with the worst first-half record in program history, but as the season began to near the end, the players proved they were fighters.

“When we were closing out the season, we were staring at the worst first-half record in program history,” Newman said. “The talent was there but took some time to get the team there.

“They just became a team that didn’t know how to lose. The last time I was in the playoffs was 2014, and I felt really removed, but this team took me in. They refused to take the photo after the champagne pop without me.”

Newman also made national headlines during last football season as the sideline reporter for the Liberty Flames.

Head Coach Hugh Freeze underwent back surgery on Aug. 16 and missed two weeks of practice leading up to the Flames game against No. 22 Syracuse.

Freeze rested in a hospital bed in the coach box’s where Newman joined him for the pregame interview. On this same weekend, Newman had been traveling from Salem to Liberty as the Red Sox were looking to clinch a spot in the playoffs.

“I have always had losing teams,” Newman said. “It was Labor Day weekend, and we still hadn’t clinched.

“I called a game on Friday, and then had to be at Liberty for the bedside interview the next day.”

This weekend was a memorable milestone for Newman as both the bedside interview with Hugh Freeze and the weekend Salem made the playoffs happened in a matter of 72 hours.

Back in March, Newman’s run with Orioles began when she entered the booth during spring training game against the Tampa Bay Rays.

“It was really nerve-wracking,” Newman said. “It was the moment that I’ve worked for for 10 years.

“I knew I was going to be under a little bit of scrutiny being a female and it being the big state. My allergies were running, but the reactions were really great. Many important people tuned in and reminded me that I am my worst critic.”

Now looking back, Newman is thankful for her time at Troy and for her school adviser who helped her shift gears and begin working toward becoming a broadcaster.

“I feel really fortunate that I gave Troy a chance. The first time I saw Troy was when I moved in. I had initially gone to Troy for print journalism, but my adviser pushed me to go into broadcast journalism.”

Barry McKnight, better known as “The Voice of the Trojans” remembers Newman’s college days because she was willing to take up any task.

“I remember Melanie’s Troy years very well and very positively,” McKnight said. “
It seems that anybody who meets Melanie remembers her well and positively.

“I knew very early that she was talented, but what became apparent, and I think it’s the main factor in Melanie becoming a big-league broadcaster, was how incredibly hard she worked, and how committed she was to get better.”

McKnight knows that Newman’s career will help young female broadcasters looking to break into the industry.

“Melanie’s career is inspiring to young female broadcasters,” McKnight said. “It is important for them to learn that no one ever needs to place artificial limits on how much they can achieve and how far they can go.

“I know I’ll be proud to say to my nieces when they ask what they can be when they grow up, ‘Let me tell you about a friend of mine named Melanie Newman…’”

As Newman continues to trailblaze the sports broadcasting industry, she is grateful to be a part of history but knows that there is so much work to be done for women in the industry.

She said, “It is great that I was a part of many firsts, but what matters is that I am not the last.”

 

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