SARASOTA, Fla. - Today is a special day for new Orioles broadcaster Melanie Newman. She’ll work an Orioles broadcast for the first time and call some play-by-play alongside Geoff Arnold on the Orioles Radio Network as the O’s host Tampa Bay at Ed Smith Stadium.
Newman joins the Orioles from the Carolina League’s Salem Red Sox, for whom she served as the lead broadcaster on baseball’s first all-female broadcast team. Newman previously held various roles with the Double-A Frisco RoughRiders and the Double-A Mobile BayBears, including play-by-play announcer, reporter and host. She has also covered Liberty University football as the team’s sideline reporter, and has reported various sports for the ACC Network, ESPN, GameDay Radio, and Major League Baseball Data Operations.
“It still doesn’t feel real yet,” she said this morning in the Orioles dugout. “Spring training has become normal for me, working with the (Major League Baseball) statistics department through advanced media. So being here feels like an everyday thing, but actually getting to be up in the booth is a whole different beast in itself.
“I’m really lucky to work with Geoff, who I’ve already built a relationship with. Geoff and I have called innings together in the Carolina League. He’s been saying, ‘Hey, we’ve done this before.’ I definitely woke up this morning with more nerves than usual. But this time last year, I kept thinking ‘Why do I get I get to be the lead (broadcaster)?’ And just trusting at the end of the year I could look back and say, ‘I could do it.’ I feel the same today.”
She’s had some nice chances along the way and feels ready to make her MLB debut. And she’ll work for the Orioles in a variety of roles on radio and TV. On opening day, she’ll be the sideline reporter for MASN. She said her schedule calls for her to be on radio for 58 games and for about the same total on television.
“My first opportunity was with a Diamondbacks affiliate,” Newman said. “Then I ended up with the Rangers and then last year with Boston. I’m getting a lot of jokes now like I’ve jumped to the other side of the fence. But with how welcoming they have been and how much they want to utilize all I can do, I feel really fortunate. Every other opportunity I would think about and look at was having to choose. Do you want to be in the booth or on the sidelines? To do a bit of everything here and to really bring out the stories we’ll have this year excites me the most that the box doesn’t have to exist anymore.”
She was asked who she admired as broadcasters.
“I was morbidly shy as a kid and wanted to be a teacher,” Newman said. “Then I got into print journalism in high school and was convinced to try broadcasting in college. So Jim Fyffe, who called for Auburn University, was the first broadcaster, for the way my dad would talk about him, that I first realized you had the ability to build a connection over the airwaves. And to give fans a sense they were part of the team. There is a lengthy list of men and women who have impacted my career.”
Newman is a bit of a trailblazer with the Orioles, becoming the first woman in club history to call play-by-play.
“I think there were about six of us in the minor leagues, and of course Jenny Cavnar and Suzyn Waldman in the big leagues. And that was it,” she said. “I was the ostrich in the sand to that point. My parents never told me this was different. I was just doing what I knew I was good at and what I was put on the earth to do, and I enjoyed it. And I was really fortunate to have clubs that backed me up and made me feel the same.
“It is really lucky that it gets to bring a light to it - that females can do this job as well. Because I don’t ever 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.’
“And that is for both boys and girls. There are guys that are pursuing fields that have been largely dominated by women for years. I want that awareness to be brought - our gender, our race, really anything else shouldn’t have an effect on the job we are supposed to do. As long as we’re good at the job, that’s it at the end of the day, and it’s very fortunate that this brings a light to that.”
Baltimorean and former WBAL Radio host Brett Hollander will make a brief debut for the Orioles on the airwaves today as well, sitting in on radio and TV during the middle of today’s game. Last Friday the club officially announced Hollander’s addition to the broadcast team for radio and TV.