Beth Mowins began her broadcast career with the Cubs with a quote from Mark Twain:
“The secret to getting ahead is getting started,” so away we go.
It was a subtly brilliant way to make history as the first woman to call play-by-play for the Chicago Cubs. That subtle brilliance was on display during the entire broadcast.
To be first at anything is hard. To be honest, being second, third, or even 10th isn’t all that easy either. There are reminders everywhere that you are doing something new, remaking a space that wasn’t designed for you just by your presence. There are inevitably people from the outside who want you to do more, be louder, and move faster, as other people beg you to do less, go away and slow down. It’s a delicate needle to thread but from the first moment of the broadcast when Mowins acknowledged the sweet sign a girl dad proudly displayed next to his oblivious daughter, I knew the Cubs had picked the right woman to thread this needle.
Fans in Arizona welcoming @bethmowins to the Cubs’ booth (screengrab from broadcast). Today, Mowins becomes the first woman to do play by play for the Cubs. She’ll be part of the @WatchMarquee team this season. pic.twitter.com/8LOswNjo9T— Jordan Bastian (@MLBastian) March 20, 2021
According to NBC Chicago those signs are exactly what you think they are: A dad, overjoyed with the prospect of opportunity for his daughters. His daughters, overjoyed with Kevin Rizzo:
Mowins called Saturday’s Cubs spring training game from Chicago. But her voice sounded over Brandon Bajema’s phone in Sloan Park’s berm seating. He was the dad with the “Welcome Beth” sign and had pulled up the live stream on the MLB App. He didn’t want to miss Mowins’ call.
“Having two little girls, it’s a big deal,” he said. “I want them to feel like they can be a part of anything or do anything that they want to do. So, we’re excited.”
His daughters, Addisyn and Jordyn, are 4 and 6 years old. Brandon and his wife Robyn devised the sign-making as a pregame ballpark activity. Jordyn’s sign featured her favorite player, Anthony Rizzo, and a drawing of his dog Kevin.
But Addisyn and Jordyn don’t need to fully comprehend why their dad pulled up the live stream from the berm. They didn’t even need to hang on every word like I did. Their lives and the futures they will see for themselves are just a little bit bigger now, whether they were aware of it or not.
Mowins’ rapport with Jim Deshaies was effortless. As she’d predicted on the latest episode of Cuppa Cubbie Blue with me and Andi Cruz Vanecek, the two kids from upstate New York had a lot to talk about. If you haven’t listened to that episode, be sure you check it out. There are a lot of interesting tidbits about how Mowins approaches game preparation, her favorite Cubs players and, crucially, her unprompted love of day playoff baseball:
If you were an alien encountering Earth for the first time on Saturday (bear with me, this is going somewhere mostly non-weird, I promise) and the first broadcast you stumbled upon was Beth Mowins and Jim Deshaies calling the Chicago Cubs Spring Training game against the Colorado Rockies you might have been confused about any number of things, but the feminine sounding voice as half of the broadcast would not have been one of them. The banter was easy, the facts were flawlessly embedded into the dialogue, the rapport was clear.
A lot of times when I write these pieces I go out and find other articles to back up my assertions. It’s an old debater strategy to boost the credibility of my arguments and, as I used to tell my students “show my work.” No, I did not just wake up and randomly fire off a hot take, I read a lot of different articles, heard a thing or two on a podcast and that informed my perspective on... fill in the blank. In this particular instance, the best possible sources of evidence I have for the job Mowins did on Saturday are your comments, so here is a selection from our own game threads:
It is worth noting that long-time contributor MN exile is right. No one else commented on the broadcast in the recap thread. In a weird way, that is the highest possible praise for Mowins. She was brought in to a job that has only been done by men to date, and that is generally a recipe for skepticism. Mowins is no stranger to skepticism, but honestly for most BCB’ers watching, it was just a good broadcast and a Cubs win.
The overwhelming consensus in the game thread was that Mowins did an outstanding job as the Cubs’ first woman play-by-play announcer. But, don’t get me wrong, there were detractors. There are always detractors. If you’re going to criticize the way someone talks though you probably shouldn’t mix up enunciation and annunciation.
I have given Beth Mowins a fair chance. The way she annunciates her words and her inflections are what make her a terrible announcer. Not the fact she is a female announcer.— Steve G (@sgotsch12) March 21, 2021
As I’ve written before, I grew up in a world where I excitedly brought home the Little League sign up form only to be told girls don’t play Little League. I’m a pretty determined person, but I’m sure that changed the realm of possibilities I saw for myself at nine years old in ways I probably still don’t fully understand. We now live in a world where little girls like Addisyn and Jordyn will hear Mowins calling play-by-play when their dad turns on the radio. I hope it changes their realm of possibilities in any number of ways I still don’t understand.
Mark your calendars now. Mowins is scheduled to make her regular season debut as a play-by-play voice for the Cubs on May 8 when they face the Pirates at Wrigley Field.