Last Sunday marked the 24th anniversary of a moment in Baltimore Orioles and Major League Baseball history that passed by without so much as a mention by many. In fact we even missed the anniversary of Kelly Saunders becoming the first female in Orioles history, and just the second female in Major League Baseball to
Last Sunday marked the 24th anniversary of a moment in Baltimore Orioles and Major League Baseball history that passed by without so much as a mention by many. In fact we even missed the anniversary of Kelly Saunders becoming the first female in Orioles history, and just the second female in Major League Baseball to serve as P. A. announcer.
Long before Renel Brooks-Moon (the only current full-time female P. A. announcer in Major League Baseball) took over for Sherry Davis (the first female full-time P. A. announcer in MLB), Saunders–a media personality in the Baltimore-Washington region–was called upon when then long-time Orioles voice Rex Barney was hospitalized due to a right-leg amputation.
On June 20, 1992, Kelly Saunders took to the microphone at the 2 1/2 month old Oriole Park at Camden Yards, calling a 9-5 loss to the New York Yankees. It was really an audition for Saunders to serve as the back-up when Barney returned to the microphone, where he would be the mainstay until his death in August of 1997. Barney’s health in later years limited his work, but he was there until the very end. Saunders, however, had just the one game to her credit, but became an important piece of Major League Baseball history and quite possibly helped kickstart women’s roles in Major League Baseball.
After Saunders, three more women would get behind the microphone for an MLB team, while a handful have graced the microphone in Minor League Baseball.
Saunders would pass away in July of 2011 at the age of 62 as the second female P. A. announcer in Major League Baseball history. What becomes murky however, is nobody can clearly identify the first female to get behind the microphone for a game, not even the Baseball Hall of Fame can identify who it is. However, a Fox Sports piece from 2012 indicates Joy Hawkins McCabe did so for the Washington Senators in 1966 in a game against the Chicago White Sox. McCabe was the daughter of the Senators’ public-relations head.
Research into women behind the P. A. microphone on the Major League level is listed below:
Joy Hawkins McCabe 1966 – Washington Senators (one game)
Kelly Saunders 1992 – Baltimore Orioles (one game)
Sherry Davis 1993-1999 – San Francisco Giants
Leslie Sterling 1994-1996 – Boston Red Sox
Renel Brooks Moon 2000-present – San Francisco Giants and first to announce in the World Series
Ironically, the first three female P. A. announcers all have ties to the Mid-Atlantic with McCabe living in Washington, Saunders just outside of Baltimore, and Davis born and raised in Virginia while going to college in Maryland. To tie all that together, Adrienne Roberson is the current P. A. announcer for the Bowie Baysox who play just outside of Washington, are the AA-Eastern League affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles, and who has been called up to Camden Yards to announce for Mother’s Day games at the same microphone Saunders made her debut. Saunders, Davis, Brooks-Moon, and Roberson can also share a wardrobe as the home team for all four wear orange and black.
The ties to women and baseball in the Baltimore-Washington area don’t stop there. Julie Croteau who was the second woman to play NCAA baseball and is one of two women to play in a Major League Baseball-sanctioned winter league, went to high school in Manassas, Virginia, a suburb of DC. She played at St. Mary’s College in southern Maryland.
It’s hard to believe that such an important date in baseball history was missed. Once it came to our attention, it even took us a few day to do all the research and verify some facts before even publishing this story.
While P. A. announcing is male dominated, there’s no argument to that, it’s not exclusively a boys club. There are many talented women who can get behind the microphone and command a crowd. The women mentioned above are the trailblazers and we salute them one-and-all.