There are so many talented women covering baseball. Here are a few that our team brands writers admire.
In this installment of our series celebrating the women who write about Major League Baseball for SB Nation’s team brands, we wanted to find out which women in the industry inspire them.
The talented women who cover teams for SB Nation sites deserve recognition in their own right. But their paths have also been shaped by women who have come before them and are doing big things alongside them in this male-dominated industry.
These women have also been influenced by their colleagues and peers. The community of women in sports media is generally a supportive and encouraging one. In addition to recognizing the women who write for our team brands, this final post of the series also celebrates that community as a whole.
Be sure to check out the entire series and each woman’s individual responses to the questions below.
Linda Surovich, Amazin’ Avenue
Growing up, I thought Linda Cohn was the coolest. She was a Mets and Rangers fan like me, her name was Linda, and when I would watch SportsCenter she would be one of the few women on there. Now I would say Lindsey Adler who writes for The Athletic. What a welcome breath of fresh air she has been to the Mets beat. She pulls no punches and really knows her stuff. I love that. As a Rangers fan, I also read Blueshirt Banter, and Shayna Goldman who writes for them seriously knows hockey inside and out. Her knowledge seems limitless and it was no surprise when she joined The Athletic.
Jen Rainwater, Athletics Nation
Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle is my professional hero. I met her for the first time in 2002 when I was an intern with a TV station that televised the A’s broadcasts. She was always helpful and never looked down at anyone — including me — and I still know her today! What I think is most impressive, besides her amazing work ethic and knack for interviewing players and always getting the latest inside scoop before anyone else, is that she was the first female President of the the Baseball Writers Association of America. That to me is incredible, and it’s even more incredible that I can call her my friend. It blows my mind.
Jessica Mendoza also comes to mind. I admire the way in which she handled all the scrutiny of being the first female to be in the booth calling a postseason game or being the first to work on Sunday Night Baseball. I’ve had my fair share of haters on the internet, but some of the things written about her were awful (so were some of mine but they weren’t being seen nationwide!). She took it all in stride, brushed off the haters like they were next to nothing, and did an amazing job as an a baseball analyst in the booth, more than holding her own with the men she was working with.
Sara Sanchez, Bleed Cubbie Blue
It would probably be too simplistic to say “all of them,” right? But honestly I’m amazed by every woman I encounter in this industry. I try to seek out stories about women doing incredible things in baseball. Specifically I never miss things from the following women:
- Carrie Muskat does an incredible job covering the Cubs for MLB and I’d love to meet her someday.
- Amy Guiterrez, who in addition to covering the Giants wrote an awesome children’s series about girls and baseball.
- Lindsay Adler has had some of the sharpest sports takes since her Deadspin days, and she’s the reason I know exactly what is going on in Yankees and Mets land on a regular basis.
- Lauren Comiter was really gracious when I got to meet her at a meetup hosted by the Athletic, and her writing on Chicago sports is fantastic.
- Not primarily a baseball writer, but Doris Kearns Goodwin’s “Wait Til Next Year” is one of the most brilliant baseball books I’ve ever read
- And, finally, a shout out to all the women doing TV analyst work, in particular, Jess Mendoza. I think she does an awesome job on Sunday Night baseball, and I frequently learn something from her commentary.
Elizabeth Strom, DRays Bay
I know there are many women doing outstanding work now, but as someone nearing 60, I would like to give a shout out to Claire Smith, one of the first women to cover baseball for a general interest newspaper. It can be hard for women today to appreciate just how many doors were closed to her — quite literally, as there were teams unwilling to let a woman into the clubhouse. That there were some women who persevered in the 1980s and 1990s gives way to the opportunities for women in the 2000s.
Jessica DeLine, Lookout Landing
In terms of writing, there really aren’t a lot of women (that I know of) writing good stuff about baseball. I think Kate Preusser is one of them. Women are starting to break down barriers in professional baseball and it’s great. Justine Siegal is amazing and has come so far. Some women are starting to become professional scouts as well, but in short, there really aren’t a lot of women in the industry in general, which needs to change. I joined a great group of women in sports on Facebook, but it’s less than 400 people and even there, the amount of women writing about baseball or working in baseball is pretty small.
Cristiana Caruso, MLB Daily Dish
Niki Noto Palmer, Kim Jones, and Jessica Mendoza all have a special place in my heart and are women I aspire to have a career like. When I was a budding sportswriter in college, I was given an assignment to interview a reporter I looked up to. I took a shot and reached out to Niki, who not only responded to me, but patiently and gracefully answered all of my questions while I kept her on the phone for nearly two hours. The experience meant a lot to me not only as a writer after a story, but as a woman in an male-dominated industry being told by a woman who already cut her teeth there that, “You can do anything the boys can and don’t you dare let them try to tell you otherwise.”
Michelle Barthiaume, Over The Monster
Doris Burke is one of the female sports personalities who I really look up to. She’s done a great job in a role that is typically dominated by men and it’s fun to listen to her during big NBA games. I also love Kayce Smith, currently working with Barstool Sports. She’s another talented female sports personality who shines in a company that was originally created mostly to appeal to men.
Caitlin Rogers, Pinstripe Alley
The Yankees admittedly have many front office issues, but they’ve done something right with Jean Afterman. She became just the third female assistant GM in MLB history when they hired her, and she’s done a lot for the industry. In addition to finding loopholes in Japanese contracts to help players like Hideo Nomo and Alfonso Soriano come to the US much sooner than they would have otherwise been allowed to, she also helped recruit Hideki Matsui. Not to mention that she refused to take George Steinbrenner’s crap. I aspire to be so bold.
Whether you like them or not, Suzyn Waldman and Jessica Mendoza also deserve a lot of credit for their radio and TV work, respectively. It’s tough to break into the baseball universe as a woman, and their representation paves the way for a future that is a maybe a little less male-dominated.
Hannah Auringer, Purple Row
I absolutely look up to Jenny Cavnar. I have always admired her work, confident and knowledgeable. Watching her broadcasts, and recently hearing her calling games inspired me, not only as a woman in the field, but a sports fan in general.
Renee Dechert, Purple Row
My Purple Row colleague Samantha Bradfield teaches music to students in the Phoenix school system, and she brings such insight and compassion to her baseball writing. I’m a serious fan of Jenny Cavnar — I hope she’s allowed to take her baseball knowledge and journalism skills as far as she possibly can. Jena Garcia reports on Denver sports for La Onda Radio, and her commentary provides cultural insights that often get lost in traditional reporting. I admire Lindsey Adler a lot — her writing for The Athletic is always a treat, and I like to watch how she handles covering two very different teams. Molly Knight’s baseball writing provides such insight — even though she’s a Dodgers fan. Jemele Hill is someone I’m in awe of, and I’m eager to watch the evolution of her career after she leaves ESPN. Finally, Kelly Wallace is starting Expanded Roster to publish voices largely marginalized by traditional baseball writing, and the possibilities are exciting.
Stacie Wheeler, True Blue LA
There are many women whom I look up to in the industry, including Alanna Rizzo and Jamie Maggio on the reporting side. Jessica Mendoza is from the same town as me, and her success as a commentator for ESPN is significant for women in broadcasting. I had the opportunity to interview Molly Knight after ‘The Best Team Money Can Buy’ came out. She’s been an influence, not only in her Dodgers writing, but also in her efforts to open up the dialogue about anxiety. Icons like Susan Slusser, Emma Span, and trailblazers Lisa Saxon and Claire Smith have all inspired me as well.
Maija Varda, Twinkie Town
My own writer on my staff, Tawny Jarvi, just blows me away all the time. I wish I was a fraction as funny and creative as she is. I absolutely love her, and she is amazing. Liz Roscher, who mostly covers the Phillies but also baseball and other sports, is also a hero of mine. Ashley MacLennan — who I actually got to meet in person at a Rays game at Target Field — is such an inspiration. Emma Span who writes (edits?) for The Athletic now, and, of course, Jessica Mendoza. There are so many great women in MLB media coverage!
Tawni Jarvi, Twinkie Town
Our editor at Twinkie Town, Maija Varda, is my hero. I remember the first time I read her work and I was just blown away that there was a woman writing such funny and informative posts. It was an absolute revelation to me. Like “Wow, we’re allowed to do that too!” and “Wow, apparently people write Ron Gardenhire Fan-Fiction!” I’ve looked up to her ever since and she’s helped me get where I am today. Another of my favorite writers is Sheryl Ring who writes over at Fangraphs, even though she’s, ugh, a Yankees fan. Seeing other women thriving is really important, because it can be daunting to try enter a traditionally male job or hobby. I just hope I manage to stick around long enough to inspire someone in the way those two have inspired me!
Josey Curtis, Viva El Birdos
At SB Nation specifically, Tanya Bondurant and Jeanna Thomas were immeasurably supportive as I took the leap from a writer at Viva El Birdos to the manager of such a truly great site. The nerves were still there — and remained for a few weeks — but without them and their words, I was hesitant to take the spot in the first place. In the sportswriting world as a whole, Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com is a woman I have admired for years. I read all of her work, and when I work on an analysis piece or game recap of my own, I love that I catch myself using a similar writing style that she does. Brittany Ghiroli and Jane Lee, also of MLB.com, are two women whose writing I rarely miss out on.
Heather Simon, Viva El Birdos
At Viva El Birdos, Gail Luscombe has been a crucial mentor to me, not just in writing, but in life. I know I can go to her with any problem, no matter how difficult, and she will have the answer for me, and more importantly, the tact to deliver the answer in a gentle, but stern way. Jen Langosch has been covering the Cardinals at MLB.com for many years now with a straightforward, unbiased style that I truly appreciate. Meg Rowley at Fangraphs is one of my favorite baseball writers. She seems to have the natural ability to capture the lighter side of baseball in the most delightful way, which is something I strive for in my writing.
Gail Luscombe, Viva El Birdos
Not to be too much of a homer for the team brand, but Heather Simon (who writes under lil_scooter93 at Viva El Birdos) is an absolute delight. Unfailingly positive and enthusiastic, she’s exactly who you want as an ambassador for your team. Jenifer Langosch, who covers the Cardinals for MLB, is knowledgeable, straightforward, and insightful. Susan Slusser for breaking the glass ceiling at the BBWAA. In terms of groundbreaking women, you must throw Melissa Ludtke, Jessica Mendoza, and Christina Kahrl in there as well.
Ashley MacLennan, Bless You Boys
So many great examples! Stacey May Fowles, who makes writing about baseball a beautiful art form. Meg Rowley, who used to write for Lookout Landing is one of the best, and I’ve been lucky enough to be edited by her for The Hardball Times. Katie Strang at The Athletic is tough, smart, and so incredible at what she does, but so open to others in the industry. Emily Waldon is one of the best champions out there for female writers and is doing a great job at achieving her own dreams, it’s really inspiring. And women like Kim Ng, Heather Nabozny (head groundskeeper for the Tigers, first female head groundskeeper), Justine Siegal (first woman to coach an MLB team, in spring training), and Sue Falsone (former Dodgers head athletic trainer, first female head athletic trainer), who broke ground in new and different ways in baseball, and have done so much to prove that women belong in the sport.
Kate Stanwick, Bluebird Banter
Emily Waldon is one of my favorite writers, and a remarkable sports journalist. Her love for baseball and passion for minor league players is evident in every feature piece and tweet she writes.
I’d also like to include Rachael McDaniel in this list, for her ability to cover such difficult topics so remarkably well. The vulnerability she writes with is truly inspiring.
Kate Preusser, Lookout Landing
I am grateful to Mina Kimes, who followed me on Twitter when I had 24 followers and sort of gave me an entree to Sports Twitter. Meg Rowley also helped me tremendously. I’m lucky to cover the Mariners, who have a strong female presence in the organization. ROOT sports anchor Angie Mentink is my hero and unbelievably kind.
Isabelle Minasian, Lookout Landing
We’re so lucky to live during a time when there are so many talented, diverse voices filling the sportswriting space. I’m immensely fortunate to work directly with one of the most talented women in baseball writing, Lookout Landing’s Managing Editor, Kate Preusser. Shannon Drayer, at 710 ESPN, is a true icon in the industry, and has a particular gift for coaxing the most compelling stories and quotes from players. I greatly admire Marly Rivera’s coverage of the great Latin players and their experiences, and Emma Baccellieri’s work is always a source of joy (even when she writes nice things about division rivals). Rachael McDaniel and Jen Mac Ramos don’t identify as women, but their writing is tremendous and I’ve learned so much from reading and conversing with them. And Mina Kimes doesn’t often write about baseball, but she belongs at the top of any modern sportswriting list, regardless of the parameters. I could go on for ages.
Sami Higgins, McCovey Chronicles
All of the women covering sports are worth looking up to, especially those who do so on a larger scale and face the blowback from traditionalists who don’t see the value of, say, in-game reporters or women in the broadcasting booth. So on that front, I admire Amy Gutierrez for her excellent Giants coverage and Jessica Mendoza for her (sadly) groundbreaking role in the booth. I admire Eireann Dolan for sticking to her values even when it wasn’t popular. I admire Rosalyn Gold-Onwude and Kate Scott for their incredible dedication and versatility. I admire my friend Tamryn Spruill, who was writing with me at Golden State of Mind and is now covering the WNBA as the Editor of SB Nation’s Swish Appeal. I admire Carmen Kiew from my own site, who is a force to be reckoned with in terms of her passion and knowledge of the game, and knowing what she wants and going for it. I admire Julie Parker who is the only regular female writer on the Giants’ beat that I know of, who puts out amazing content. I admire Jemele Hill’s unwavering tenacity. And countless other women in varying levels of the job who give it all that they have who inspire me on a daily basis. Most of all, I think that women who love sports, even if they aren’t currently covering it as a profession, have to put up with a lot of … negativity, to put it nicely. So I encourage anyone who has even the slightest interest in writing about sports or covering it for television or radio, give it your all and keep doing what you love. Your passion will shine through and you will get there and I will be here to support you!
Carmen Kiew, McCovey Chronicles
Katie Nolan — she has such a unique voice and brand. Jessica Kleinschmidt — her work on MLB and Cut4 really taps into the fun side of baseball that I think the sport is sorely lacking. Jessica Mendoza — MLB’s first baseball analyst and someone who is a great role model to anyone aspiring to make it in baseball — her work ethic and drive really motivate me. The one thing all these ladies have in common is the ability to let their passion for the game shine through — I truly believe that is missing from baseball media. You can love and respect the game and still be a good reporter!
Sam Bradfield, Purple Row
I really look up to Jody Jackson from Fox Sports Arizona and Jenny Cavnar from AT&T SportsNet. When I moved to Phoenix, I spent a lot of time watching Diamondbacks games because they’re the local team, and I always admired how Jody presented herself on TV. She was really the first woman I watched on TV regularly who really covered sports and I really enjoy watching her and listening to interviews she does on the local radio from time to time.
When I started watching Rockies games again on MLB.tv, I got to watch Jenny a lot more and I’ve met her a few times when I’ve been around the team. I really admire how she conducts herself, both on TV as well as around the clubhouse. She is incredibly professional but also really easy to talk to. She was really helpful during spring training when I was still getting my feet under me. Of course, watching her do play-by-play this season was really cool, too, since she was the first woman to do it since 1993 to do that, but I just really admire her as a person and for everything she does for this team Denver baseball community.
Both of these women do an incredible job at covering their teams, and I really look to them for how to carry myself as a professional baseball woman. I really look forward to working more with Jenny in the future, and maybe sometime I’ll be able to meet Jody as well.
Stacy Marlow, Talking Chop
Although I don’t know any other women in the SB Nation family, there are many women in the sports and media industry who I look up to. Kelsey Wingert is a field reporter and host for Fox Sports South and travels with the Braves. Her interviews and social media presence go beyond simply reporting information. She is passionate about the team and extremely knowledgeable about the sport of baseball.
Another woman in the industry who I have looked up to for years is Susan Lulgjuraj. She is the marketing communications manager for Topps (one of the biggest sports card companies in the industry). Sports cards and collecting tends to be a male driven hobby, and her presence has made it easier for women to gain respect among fellow collectors.
Finally, the number one woman I look up to in the industry of sports is my boss and mentor, Lisa Chang. Formerly the head of human resources for Arthur Blank (Falcons and Atlanta United owner), she is leading the way for women and minorities to be included on a larger spectrum in sports-related roles. Not only does she promote inclusion, she also instills the value of both dedication and professionalism in women searching for high-level sports management positions.