My family was at a Babe Ruth tournament in Delta, Utah. My dad was coaching my brother’s team and I had been asked by his assistant coach to keep any eye on the video camera they’d set up down the right field line. After a few innings of sitting by the camera and keeping score it occurred to me that I had an exceptionally good opportunity to imitate Harry Caray and try my hand at play-by-play.
Early 1990’s Utah wasn’t exactly the most progressive place in the world and more than a few people walking by gave the teenage girl talking about baseball to the universe behind an old VHS camera on a tripod strange looks. I didn’t care about their looks even a little bit. I was in heaven. I was watching the game that I love and describing the action on the field. I distinctly remember picking up a balk that the umpires hadn’t noticed yet about three pitches before they called it. It was vindication for a girl who loved baseball more than just about anything.
I’m not sure those old videos survived, but I couldn’t stop thinking about that dusty field in western Utah as I listened to Beth Mowins during the top of the third inning Wednesday night as the Cubs took on the Padres. She talked about hooking a Mr. Microphone up to a radio as a kid and trying her hand at play-by-play. In case you’ve forgotten what a Mr. Microphone is, I’m pretty sure this is the commercial Beth was referencing in that interview:
But I digress, back to play-by-play. Beth didn’t see any reason a woman couldn’t do that job, and 145 years after the Chicago Cubs were founded, they don’t see any reason a woman can’t do that job either. Beth will be the first woman to call play-by-play for the Chicago Cubs during Saturday’s game against the Colorado Rockies on Marquee Sports Network.
Beth joined Andi Cruz Vanecek and me for about 40 minutes Thursday to talk about how she got started with that Mr. Microphone and turned it into a career calling play-by-play in sports. She is no stranger to making history. In 2017 she was the first woman to call an NFL game in 30 years. While we didn’t talk about skeptics or detractors on the podcast, this interview from Sports Illustrated before that game should clear up any concerns Cubs fans might have:
Beth Mowins knows there will be viewers who think her Monday Night Football game-calling assignment on September 11 is a stunt or political correctness run amok from ESPN. But she has no interest in exerting any energy over those who do not believe she should be calling an NFL game.
“I learned a long time ago that you don’t ask why you did or why you didn’t get a job, you simply say thank you very much and work your tail off to keep it. Or you work your tail off to get the next one,” Mowins said. “I am most focused on doing a respectful job and earning the respect of my peers and my family. I understand I will not please everybody and I always try the best I can not to listen to negative people with negative attitudes. Life is too short for that.”
We covered a lot of ground in this interview including Beth’s appreciation of daytime playoff baseball, her favorite Cubs growing up, and how she’s brushing up on Seinfeld quotes to keep up with Jim Deshaies. However, as I’m sitting here reflecting on the interview my biggest takeaway isn’t her obvious appreciation of the history of Wrigley Field or the care Beth puts into game day preparation through a process she referred to as “foraging,” rather it’s the joy that was present through the entire conversation as Beth talked about sports and her lifelong love of competition that brought her to this moment in history. Be sure you listen to the whole episode and get to know the woman who will ensure that the next generation of little girls will know that they have a future in calling play-by-play if they choose to pursue it: