Roughly a year after Troy University alumna Melanie Newman made history by becoming the first woman in Baltimore Orioles’ history to be a play-by-play announcer, her name was etched in the history books once again in July.
Newman became part of Major League Baseball’s first-ever all-female broadcast when the Orioles took on the Tampa Bay Rays on the “MLB Game of the Week on YouTube.”
Growing up, Newman believed sports were more than just a game. Instead, they were an opportunity for Newman to worry less about what was going on in the world and to focus more on the people around her.
“It really does give this ability to bring people together and put away all of the polarizing topics and the other issues that are going on,” Newman said.” [Whether] you need to come together for a team or your mutual hate for the other team, you can put away so many other things that seem to be dividing.”
Newman, a 2013 graduate, majored in broadcast journalism while also focusing on sports information.
At TROY, Newman was the lead voice for the women volleyball team’s play-by-play.
She also called games for softball and baseball, worked behind the scenes at sporting events, and contributed to TROY TrojanVision News, the official television network of Troy University.
“It was cool because it gave you an idea of how live sporting events actually operate and just how many people it takes to make them operate,” Newman said.
Newman worked various jobs after graduation but still found it tough to find her passion in the newsroom. Newman wasn’t sure which route she had to take to get there, especially after seeing fellow journalists succeed immediately upon graduation.
“It’s so hard in our industry to not see what everybody else is doing,” Newman said. “I knew that other people were light years ahead of me.”
Newman said she called everyone she knew, knowing her true passion was out on the field.
“I said give me the opportunity as long as I can finish out the baseball season at a ballpark,” Newman said. “That was one thing I knew I wanted to do.”
Newman landed a job with the Mobile BayBears where she learned the ins and outs of on field hosting from a friend and colleague.
It was there where Newman was in her first professional radio booth with an affiliated team, a move that brought backlash because of her gender.
“I didn’t find out until two years ago just how much backlash he had gotten for bringing a woman into the booth,” Newman said.
Newman went on to work as a sideline reporter for numerous bowl games and various play-by-play opportunities.
After serving as a part of the first all-female broadcast team in professional baseball for the Salem Red Sox, Newman was selected as the first woman to be a play-by-play announcer for the Baltimore Orioles.
When speaking with the Orioles, Newman hadn’t realized she was in a job interview.
“I thought this was an informational interview,” Newman said. “It really surprised me when they came back with a job offer.”
Newman’s debut was during the Orioles’ spring training, but the start of the MLB’s season was delayed because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Looking back, although Newman had only ever known consistent work, her time off became a silver lining. It was the first time since high school that Newman got to spend quality and undistracted time with her family.
“It was really a nice period for me,” Newman said. “Working in sports, you sacrifice your personal life to the fullest extent.”
Despite landing her dream job, Newman had a few hiccups at her first game in addition to not being fully prepared for her first broadcast.
“It went about as horribly as you could imagine,” Newman said. “I didn’t know how big-league broadcasters really prepared, and in the minor leagues we don’t get that time.”
Newman didn’t allow the mistake to define her season and is glad she has the experience to learn from.
“[Mistakes are] going to happen every single day,” Newman said. “You have to be gracious with yourself and you have to understand that you’re human.”
Newman recognizes her success and accomplishments within the industry, but also said there is more to sports than the game.
“This is the same job that I’ve been doing now since 2014,” Newman said. “It’s not a very popular route, but I wanted to tell the story away from sports.
“I didn’t want to talk about statistics. I wanted to talk about what makes them human. I want to talk about what other people could relate to in these athletes’ lives because they’ve all been through just as much struggle.”
Despite her success, Newman still has her own challenges she faces, but they haven’t stopped her from encouraging others to pursue their “ultimate calling.”
“You have to know in your heart that you’re doing whatever it takes to pursue your ultimate calling,” Newman concluded. “I still have those moments of ‘I don’t know if I can do this, I don’t know if I belong.’
“They’re the ones that that keep pushing you forward.”