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Melanie Newman makes O's radio history

@JoeTrezz
August 4, 2020

Melanie Newman had to wait a few months longer than expected to make Orioles history … and then another week. But that historic moment has come. After her debut on the airwaves was delayed by the coronavirus pandemic, then again when last Tuesday’s Orioles game against the Marlins was postponed

Melanie Newman had to wait a few months longer than expected to make Orioles history … and then another week. But that historic moment has come.

After her debut on the airwaves was delayed by the coronavirus pandemic, then again when last Tuesday’s Orioles game against the Marlins was postponed for a week due to testing, Newman’s moment finally arrived on Tuesday at Oriole Park. Handling play-by-play duties alongside Geoff Arnold on the Orioles Radio Network, Newman became the first woman in club history to call a regular-season game from the booth.

“I feel grateful for having spent so much time in the Minor Leagues; you get used to the uncertainty,” Newman told MLB.com. “Now that we've waited this long, and I think I've exhausted just about every Orioles history and fun book that I could find, I’ve just been ready to go.”

Newman, 29, previously held roles on broadcast teams in the D-backs, Rangers and Red Sox farm systems, and spent 2019 leading an all-female broadcast team for Boston’s Class A Advanced affiliate in Salem. On Tuesday she became one of four active female broadcasters in MLB, joining the Rockies’ Jenny Cavnar, the Yankees’ Suzyn Waldman and ESPN’s Jessica Mendoza. She is the fourth woman to handle regular MLB play-by-play duties, following Waldman, Cavnar and Gayle Gardner.

“I never even thought that this would be in the realm of possibility for me,” Newman said. “It was a situation that presented itself, and of course I said yes. … Being challenged to win teams’ and individuals’ trust, and to have them give me their stories and to know that I'm going to tell them justly, that's something that I really don't take for granted. And that means a lot to me.”

One of several additions to the Orioles’ bigger and revamped broadcast team this season, Newman was originally slated to be part of around 65 radio and Mid-Atlantic Sports Network television broadcasts each before the pandemic struck. She is now slated to call roughly 35 on the radio, while also dabbling in TV and sideline reporting work as well.

She made her regular-season debut this weekend as MASN’s sideline reporter for the Orioles’ series against the Rays.

She also called an exhibition game in late July with Arnold, a fellow alumnus of the Carolina League and the Rangers’ Double-A affiliate in Frisco. She and Arnold, who is also in his first year calling O’s games, would sometimes make guest appearances on each other’s broadcasts when their teams faced off last summer. Newman said that experience has led to natural chemistry calling games alongside each other.

“I couldn't ask for a better situation making the big league jump this year, to make it with somebody who I know really well,” Newman said. “He is usually the first person I go to to critique my stuff within the day we’ve called it, because of the way he delivers it in such a constructive way. And he knows me well enough to know what I’m looking for overall and what I’m capable of.”

Upon calling her first Spring Training game this March in Sarasota, Fla., Newman cited Vin Scully, Auburn football and basketball announcer Jim Fyffe, and Brewers reporter Sophia Minnaert as her influences. She said on Tuesday that she hopes to put her own spin on her new role while humanizing the players she covers and emphasizing storytelling in her coverage.

“Once I started in the play-by-play side of things, I realized kind of where I lived was in between pitches,” she said. “It’s just that extra little anecdote, whether it’s about a person or the fact that, for example, August is the official month of migration for the Baltimore Orioles, literally. It’s just stuff like that, that if you know it, it makes you smile on your drive home or make you stop while you’re washing the dishes. That's what means a lot to me, just to make it a little more personable.”

Joe Trezza covers the Orioles for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @JoeTrezz.