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A woman’s place can be in the booth

Tuesday’s Say Hey, Baseball takes a look at Jenny Cavnar in the Rockies’ broadcast booth

MLB: San Diego Padres at Colorado Rockies Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

In Drew Goodman’s absence, Jenny Cavnar added herself to history. Her accomplishment should excite anyone with an investment in baseball and seeing it succeed. Baseball being equally open to all kinds of people grows the sport. The feat might not have produced as many electric highlights as Max Scherzer did when he etched his name as the third pitcher to coax 20 strikeouts in a game, but it got impressively close.

For all of baseball’s rich history, there is always an opportunity for more, to see something that hasn’t been done before, or at least an opportunity to add a name to a short, prestigious list. We all know that most times the fewer the qualifiers the more impressive the feat. Cavnar’s brand of history put her on a short list with few qualifiers. Monday, Cavnar became the third woman to do play-by-play in a regular-season game. She was the first since 1993. The women who have stood in her shoes don’t fill up a single hand. Not even including color commentators fills that hand. So, yes, Clay Travis, it is a big news story.

Women have a long history in the sport of baseball. Three women played baseball in the Negro Leagues. The first women’s college baseball team was initiated in 1866. Of course, there was the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League that formed during WWII. This is history not consistently recognized by Major League Baseball, explicitly or implicitly. MLB still acts like women are on the outside and not close to half of its fanbase. Women are still marketed to almost exclusively with pink fan-gear (they shouldn’t be easier to get than a game jersey in a women’s cut) and Baseball 101 events (good, but not when they’re only targeted to women). The practices imply that women need to be persuaded with a stereotypical feminine color to proudly wear her team’s jersey and women, and not men, need help understanding the basics of baseball.

That latter assumption extended to even the pleasant receptions of Cavnar on Monday. Dallas Braden was quoted saying, “She knows her stuff.”

“With knowledge and rhythm, Jenny Cavnar’s TV play-by-play debut in Rockies vs. Padres was a historic success,” headlined the Denver Post.

Cavnar is a familiar voice for Rockies fans, doing Rockies’ pre- and post-game TV shows, and has worked for 12 years in MLB. The need to assert a professional’s knowledge of the game at Cavnar level is belittling, and indicative of how the game views women and how women are viewed in the context of the game.

To combat the more explicit disrespect hurled at Cavnar, @Rockies did its part on Twitter. Social media manager Julian Valentin even made a nice Twitter thread on the decision. Valentin challenging that kind of thinking will make the path of women working their way up the ranks a little easier and baseball a little more inclusive. Valentin stood up for the belonging of women in baseball. If more official league stand-ins did that, then maybe there would have already been a longer list to add to.

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