Mowins takes place as a broadcast pioneer

March 20th, 2021

Moments after the Cubs' television broadcast launched on Saturday afternoon, the cameras focused on two fans on the outfield berm at Sloan Park in Mesa, Ariz. One held a poster with a "Welcome Beth" message, a young girl at their side.

Inside the broadcast booth at Wrigley Field, Beth Mowins saw the image flash across her monitor.

"That's very sweet," Mowins said in the open to the game's telecast. "I'm looking forward to being a part of the Marquee team this year, as we get set for the Chicago Cubs and the Colorado Rockies."

And with that, history was made.

Mowins' presence in the booth for Saturday's Cactus League game marked the first time in Cubs history that a woman handled the play-by-play duties. The veteran broadcaster was working alongside color analyst Jim Deshaies, as Mowins will do a handful of times this season for Marquee Sports Network.

Over the offseason, the Cubs hired Jon "Boog" Sciambi to be their play-by-play voice, but Mowins is among a group of experienced broadcasters who will fill in for Sciambi on occasion. Mowins' first regular-season game is currently scheduled for May 8 against the Pirates.

On Saturday, Mowins dove right into the details of the game at hand, rather than focusing on the milestone. That said, she understands the importance of her voice carrying into the ears of young fans.

"It's great, I think, to give young boys and girls out there: If you see it, you can be it,'" Mowins said recently in an interview on MLB Network. "And if you can have a positive impact on people, that's terrific.

"But, as you know, when you're calling games, and you're having a new adventure and you're doing something different, it's really about the day to day and the process and the preparation that you developed over the years as a broadcaster."

And Mowins has considerable experience. After earning her Master's at Syracuse, she latched on with ESPN, calling a wide variety of sports (professional and collegiate) dating back to 1994. Mowins became the network's voice of college softball, including calling the Women's College World Series.

In terms of milestones, Mowins became the first woman to call a nationally televised NFL game in 2017. She also became the first woman to do play-by-play for College Basketball on CBS and the NFL on CBS.

"The great thing about sports is it's all merit-based," Mowins said on MLB Network. "You have an opportunity to go prove yourself. And that's kind of how I approached broadcasting. And when I saw that there weren't any other women calling play-by-play, I didn't see that as an obstacle; I saw that as an opportunity.

"Well, if I can get good enough at it -- and it was at a time that they started putting a lot of women's sports on television -- there would be an opportunity for me there. So, I'm grateful for the way that my family prepared me for being comfortable in what would usually be uncomfortable situations.

"So I never really cared if I was the only girl in the room. That was a chance to stand out and be unique -- not be different."

Mowins has said that seeing the late Phyllis George on "The NFL Today" in her youth lit the inner spark to pursue broadcasting. Mowins played three sports in high school and continued to play basketball at Lafayette College, but she knew that her future was off the field.

"I was actually drawn to play-by-play from a very early age," she said. "I was one of those crazy kids that was sitting up in the cheap seats with my old transistor radio and my old recorder, just honing my craft from a very young age."

Cubs fans heard the result on Saturday afternoon.

"Hi, I'm Beth Mowins, along with Jim Deshaies," she said. "I'm very excited to be a part of the team this year, Jim, and looking forward to today. As my good friend Mark Twain likes to say, 'The secret to getting ahead is getting started,' so away we go."