History was made in the broadcast booth Tuesday night in Baltimore. The Orioles may not have won but Melanie Newman sure did, becoming only the fourth woman and the first in franchise history to call major-league play-by-play. The 29-year-old Troy University graduate joins ESPN’s Jessica Mendoza, Jenny Cavnar of the Rockies and Suzyn Waldman—John Sterling’s longtime partner on Yankees radio broadcasts—as one of four active female announcers in MLB.
Newman, who also works as a sideline reporter for the Orioles on MASN (she debuted over the weekend), has an extensive background announcing at the minor-league level, working with Suzie Cool in an all-female broadcast booth last year with the Salem Red Sox of the Advanced-A Carolina League. She’s also enjoyed stints as a host and correspondent for the Mobile Bay Bears and as a play-by-play voice for the Frisco RoughRiders, the latter a Double-A affiliate of the Texas Rangers. Her other credits include sideline work for ESPN’s college football coverage and ACC Network.
Newman, who cites Vin Scully and Jim Fyffe as her broadcasting influences, was joined on the Orioles’ radio call by Geoff Arnold. Both alums of the Carolina and Texas Leagues (Arnold also got his start behind the mic in Frisco), Newman and Arnold seem to enjoy an easy chemistry, bonding over their shared minor-league experiences. “I couldn't ask for a better situation making the big league jump this year, to make it with somebody who I know really well,” Newman told Joe Trezza of MLB.com. “[Arnold] knows me well enough to know what I’m looking for overall and what I’m capable of.”
“I never even thought that this would be in the realm of possibility for me,” Newman admitted, recalling the long, winding journey that led up to Tuesday’s watershed moment. “Being challenged to win teams’ and individuals’ trust, and to have them give me their stories and to know that I'm going to tell them justly, that's something that I really don't take for granted. And that means a lot to me.”
Good news in MLB has been hard to come by recently, but Newman’s inspiring rise through the broadcast ranks has been one of the season’s early bright spots.