'Yes, you can': Another milestone for Mowins

Veteran broadcaster is first woman to call regular-season game for Cubs

May 9th, 2021

CHICAGO -- Beth Mowins does not remember a time she did not dream about being a broadcaster. Even while playing sports with other kids in her neighborhood, Mowins says she would call play-by-play of the action for fun.

And then Mowins saw Phyllis George working as a sportscaster on The NFL Today show on CBS. Seeing a woman in that role made those dreams suddenly seem a little more real.

"That kind of lit the spark," Mowins said. "I just turned to my mom one day and said, 'Hey, can I do that?' And of course, my mom, in all of her greatness, said, 'Yes, you can.'"

Yesterday and again today, Mowins is in the TV booth at Wrigley Field, serving as Marquee Sports Network's play-by-play voice for the Cubs' Mother's Day weekend games against the Pirates. She became the first woman in Cubs history to call a regular-season game.

Mowins is working alongside analyst Jim Deshaies, filling in for Cubs' voice Jon "Boog" Sciambi. Mowins and Deshaies partnered for a Cubs-Rockies game during Spring Training, but they called that game remotely.

This time around, Mowins is excited to finally hear the hum of a crowd in front of her again.

"It'll be fabulous to get back to a lot more of that buzz that you hear usually with a lot more fans in the stands," Mowins said earlier this week. "And the ebbs and flows of their reactions, I think is one thing -- as a play-by-play announcer -- that I've always tried to follow."

While this is a milestone moment in Cubs history, Mowins has a wealth of broadcasting experience.

Mowins has worked with ESPN dating back to 1994, calling a variety of professional and college sports, and serving as the voice of the Women's College World Series. Mowins also became the first woman to call a nationally televised NFL game in 2017, when she was in the booth for a Monday Night Football broadcast.

There have been other milestones with CBS -- calling college basketball, NBA and NFL games on the network. Mowins also has past experience in baseball, dating back to working a Spring Training game alongside John Kruk for ESPN more than a decade ago.

Around that time, Mowins' mom, Kate, had been diagnosed with lung cancer.

"I took a picture with me," said Mowins, whose mom passed away in 2010. "She had this really good picture of her and my grandpa, and I took that picture with me and had that up in the press box with me.

"I'm sure she'll be there with me this weekend, and hopefully she'll bring a little sunshine with her."

Mowins grew up with three brothers, who did not take it easy on their sister in the "knock-down, drag-out hoops games" in the driveway. After one Halloween when some local teens tore down rims around their Syracuse, N.Y., neighborhood, Mowins' dad, Lenny, and an uncle cut a telephone pole in half, installed it in the ground with cement and attached a new basketball hoop.

"I'm pretty sure it's still standing about 40 years later," Mowins said with a laugh.

She remembers making the trek to her local 7-Eleven for packs of baseball cards and laughs some more when discussing the Wiffle ball games in the street. Mowins also joked that the backyard "never recovered" from the basepaths worn into the grass by her and her brothers.

The "Bronx Zoo" Yankees were king where she grew up in those days.

"I played second base," Mowins said. "Because I wanted to be Willie Randolph one day."

Mowins did play three sports in high school and went on to be a decorated basketball player for Lafayette College in Pennsylvania. But she always knew that the more realistic dream to chase was becoming a broadcaster.

During high school, when her dad -- a teacher and coach -- was working football or basketball games, Mowins would handle the public address announcing. She would also listen to various broadcasters, studying how they went about their craft.

As her career started taking shape, Mowins viewed the lack of women in the industry at the time as an opportunity, not an obstacle. She carved out a niche calling college sports in New York and then Connecticut, and ESPN came calling as Mowins gained more exposure and experience.

"It just kind of grew from there," she said.

Mowins said her parents, and especially her mom, helped plant the seeds.

"I give her a lot of credit for allowing me to be bold and ambitious," Mowins said. "And just being super supportive and encouraging me in all my endeavors. And then my dad was there for the pat on the bat, or the kick in the butt to get out the door and go get it, and not wait for it to come to you."