Major League Baseball made its return debut this month and while some fans were just happy to have baseball back, others seemed more caught up in who was calling the game. That is because Jessica Mendoza made history as the first woman to land a full-time analyst position with ESPN baseball.
While there was a large amount of positive feedback, there were still those who claimed women should not call “men’s sports.”
Mendoza is certainly not inexperienced, nor is she in the role for the sake of diversity. She has a track record as an international softball champion.
In the broadcast booth, she has called no-hitters and playoff games alike.
Mendoza even has the endorsements from baseball greats such as Ron Darling, who commented that Mendoza, “[gives] a fresh new look. There’s nothing tired about Jessica Mendoza’s analysis. It’s some of the best stuff I’ve seen, to tell you the truth.”
And yet, even with the qualifications, the experience and the endorsements, Mendoza faces criticism.
Opponents say that baseball is a “man’s game” and to “keep feminism out of baseball.” The overwhelming reality is that there is nothing that separates baseball from men, women or anyone else. It is not an exclusionary sport that only one sex can enjoy.
Furthermore, women have a long history of greatness in baseball, dating back to 1867 with an African-American women’s team.
In 1931, a 17-year-old girl named Jackie Mitchell struck out two of the greatest baseball players in history, Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig — she was kicked out of baseball as a result.
These women faced discrimination and bias, but that didn’t stop them from proving baseball is anyone’s game.
Women proved and will prove, time and time again, that anyone can play, coach, broadcast or simply enjoy baseball. Baseball is America’s pastime, not just men’s pastime.
It is a sport that has broken barriers in color and ethnicity. It is a sport that does not, in and of itself, discriminate.
As the late Lou Gehrig notably said, “There is no room in baseball for discrimination. It is our national pastime and a game for all.”
Michael Hodapp is a contributing columnist for the Central Florida Future.