SPORTS

Jessica Mendoza Makes Baseball History, Prompting Sexist Backlash

The ESPN analyst became the first woman to call a nationally televised MLB playoff game on Tuesday night.

Jessica Mendoza made baseball history on Tuesday night when she became the first woman to call a nationally televised MLB playoff game.

The ESPN analyst joined John Kruk and Dan Shulman in the booth at Yankee Stadium to provide color commentary on the Houston Astros’ 3-0 victory over the New York Yankees in the American League Wild Card Game.

The 34-year-old former softball slugger and two-time Olympic gold medal winner with Team USA became a regular analyst on ESPN’s “Sunday Night Baseball” in September.

Social media was abuzz with comments about Mendoza's performance; her name even started trending on Twitter. 

Many of these posts were positive and encouraging.

There was, however, no shortage of comments that went the other way, specifically making derogatory statements about Mendoza’s gender.

Mendoza, who was a four-time first-team All-American at Stanford University, is no stranger to such derision. She endured similar criticism when she made history earlier this year as the first woman in the booth for an ESPN MLB broadcast during a game between the Arizona Diamondbacks and the St. Louis Cardinals. For example:

Yet Mendoza refuses to let the haters get her down. In an August interview with ThinkProgress, she said she’s learned to shrug off “the blatant sexism” that she faces regularly in the world of sports.

“My mom got mad because some guy said, ‘you belong in the kitchen’ and that made me laugh,” she said.

Female sports analysts have long faced discrimination on the job. Suzyn Waldman, now a color commentator for the Yankees, became the first woman in history to broadcast a World Series game back in 2009. When she started working as a sportscaster in the late 1980s, Waldman was stunned by the treatment she endured.

“I’ve never had people hate me because I was a woman. It was a real shock to me,” Waldman told AdWeek in 2012. “I’d get used condoms in the mail and death threats. Horrible things happened in those first few years.”

Mendoza told Buzzfeed that she was recently approached by Waldman at a Yankees game. The veteran sportscaster reportedly gave Mendoza her phone number “with the instruction to call any time she needed help.”

“So many women together, and honestly, so many guys have reached out to me,” Mendoza told the news outlet. “It just gives me the continued confidence that we all love this game and we’re all doing this together.”

 

Earlier on HuffPost:

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