Though progress has been made over the past several decades, a gap between the presence of men and women in the historically male-dominated world of sports continues to exist in 2020. MLB Broadcaster Suzyn Waldman discussed that gap at the Binghamton University Athletics Department’s 15th-annual Celebrating Women’s Athletics Luncheon on Monday.
“It’s a different world now,” Waldman said. “[Female acceptance in sports] hasn’t gone as fast as I would like it to and we’re still way behind other things, but this is a really good start and I’m just really glad to be here.”
Waldman made history in 2005 by becoming the first female color commentator on a radio broadcast for a MLB team. She has been calling New York Yankees games on the radio ever since.
Before her career for the Yankees, Waldman was no stranger to the New York sports scene. She was the very first voice heard on the country’s first all-sports radio station, WFAN, and created the radio beat reporter job during her 15 years at the station. In her career, she has covered the Yankees, New York Mets, New York Knicks and New Jersey Devils.
Currently, Jessica Mendoza is the only other woman calling baseball games, working as a color analyst on ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball telecasts. However, Mendoza calls games only once a week, while Waldman can be heard daily during the season. In an article released on Monday, Andrew Marchand of the New York Post reported that ESPN is likely to remove Mendoza from the booth before the upcoming season, meaning Waldman may once again be the only female voice.
“This is my 16th year in the booth,” Waldman said. “There’s still just me.”
The 73-year-old said while there are more women in sports broadcasting today than when she first started, the industry’s continual categorization of women is an issue that needs to end.
“I would still love it if someone who wasn’t blonde and beautiful could get a sideline reporting job,” Waldman said. “And if they are blonde and beautiful, not being replaced when they’re 35.”
Waldman said Monday’s event, held at the Events Center, would not have happened in the beginning of her career. The luncheon has grown to become one of the Athletics Department’s biggest fundraisers. The event saw a record 810 attendees, significantly more than the 75 who attended the inaugural luncheon in 2006, and raised more than $50,000 this year to support the Jeannette Rankin Women’s Scholarship Fund.
The luncheon has raised more than $550,000 since 2006 to support the scholarship fund. This year, 10 female athletes at BU, including women’s lacrosse senior Olivia Batista, were honored by receiving the scholarship. Batista was this year’s student-athlete speaker at the event.
“The things the event stands for and represents,” Batista said. “Women in sports and female success is awesome, so to attend [for the fifth straight year] and even be the speaker in it is a really cool experience for me.”
Batista made sure to credit her support staff, including the Athletics Department, her teammates, Nadine Mastroleo, an associate professor of psychology, lacrosse head coach Stephanie Allen and assistant athletic trainer Kara Gorgos, for helping her stay strong throughout her career. In her speech, Batista also mentioned her mother as a role model.
Waldman said an event like this is great to remind women that whether they stay in sports or not, they will always have the memory and feeling of being supported and pushed by teammates and coaches. The broadcaster stressed that this support system did not exist when she first started her career.
“I sat in Yankee Stadium for a solid year and nobody talked to me, because [my colleagues] thought I got a job that should be given to a real reporter, meaning male,” Waldman said.
Along with Waldman, Batista cited former first lady Michelle Obama, and, despite not being a huge soccer fan, former American soccer player Abby Wambach as inspirations for her success.
“I think [Wambach] is unbelievable,” Batista said. “She stands for everything she believes in and is really out there to go get it and continues to make the progress. If it weren’t for people like her, I wouldn’t be here right now.”