Mentink 'thrilled' after historic TV debut

Broadcaster shares ROOTS Sports booth as first woman to call Mariners game

September 1st, 2021

SEATTLE -- The jitters were palpable through the hallway adjacent to the broadcast booths high atop T-Mobile Park on Monday. Angie Mentink, longtime ROOT Sports Northwest studio host and sideline reporter, was minutes away from calling her first game as a color commentator and pacing, emotions swirling from excitement to anxiety.

But those were merely the understandable byproduct of stepping into a chair that no woman had before in Mariners broadcast history. When she took the microphone alongside Aaron Goldsmith before the Seattle’s eventual loss to Houston, Mentink became the first woman to serve as a color commentator for a Mariners telecast.

Over the next three hours and 35 minutes, Mentink dished insights from her softball playing days at the University of Washington, injected distinct personality to the conversation and conducted an in-booth interview with Heather Tarr, UW’s current softball coach, who threw out the ceremonial first pitch after being recognized for coaching Team USA at the recent Tokyo Olympics.

In that regard, it was ideal banter between two people who feel they are at their best when mentoring and guiding others. Mentink, whose coaching career spans her children’s Little League teams all the way to UW, went on to say that mentality is embedded in her analysis in front of the camera.

“I kind of have always seen myself as a coach when it comes to baseball and softball,” Mentink said. “I would liken it to like a clinic or reminding people how these players are able to do these things, why they're successful, why they're not successful and what they're so good at, because they really are ridiculously amazing.

"I try to remind people that what they're doing here -- sometimes they succeed, sometimes they fail -- and I guess I'm always just kind of looking at it through the eyes of a coach.”

Mentink has been in the booth for two PlayersCast broadcasts this season (alongside Mike Blowers and Dan Wilson), which ROOT launched as a unique project presenting the telecast as a conversation among former players rather than within standard roles, such as the distinct difference between play-by-play and color commentators. That’s why Monday’s broadcast carried a little more weight.

“I really believe this about broadcasting and baseball -- both of those things are supposed to be fun," Mentink said. “And I have so much fun doing both of them.”

The original plan was for Mentink to debut last week, but for a game that was being played in Oakland, which would’ve been a remote call. So, she got her first chance at a full experience while filling in for Blowers, the Mariners’ everyday color analyst. Rather than have Mentink do a trial run alongside him, the Mariners and ROOT gave her the entire platform.

“They were like, ‘Get out of the nest, jump off the diving board, go do it,’” Mentink said. “Basically, collectively shutting me off and saying, ‘You can do this.’ And it's not that I didn't think I could, but it sure is nice when you have the support from both of those sides.”

After receiving such positive reviews, including a personal email from Mariners chairman and managing general partner John Stanton late Monday, what’s next?

Mentink appreciates the milestone attached to her gender, but doesn’t want that to be her defining component, saying that she hopes Monday -- both for her and other aspiring female broadcasters -- is merely a starting point, rather than a finish line. So, it’s probably a safe bet to assume she’ll be lobbying for more opportunities if and when they arise.

“Let me be clear: Mike Blowers isn't getting Wally Pipp’d,” Mentink said. “He's so incredibly talented and amazing. … But I really was so thrilled. I mean, it was almost overwhelming. Most of it was just so incredibly supportive as I continue to sort of poke away at different ceilings, and pushing back on certain walls. So, it was really, really fantastic to kind of get that reception, both from the Mariners and also a lot of the fans.”

MLB to recognize Childhood Cancer Awareness Day
Major League Baseball announced that it will raise awareness for childhood cancer during all games on Wednesday for a special league-wide day in home ballparks, including T-Mobile Park, where the Mariners and Astros will meet for a three-game series finale.

MLB’s Childhood Cancer Awareness Day, held during Childhood Cancer Awareness Month in collaboration with Stand Up To Cancer (SU2C), will combine a visual and ceremonial demonstration of support for the cause with outreach to local hospitals treating young patients in their communities. All on-field personnel -- including players, managers, coaches, and umpires -- will wear gold ribbon decals and wristbands during all games.