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Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Betty Caywood and Mary Shane: Baseball’s First Female Announcers

Of all the dramatic things I’ve ever seen heard!

Last night, as often happens when I’m trying to put myself to sleep, I ended up in a deep Wikipedia hole, landing on the page of Suzyn Waldman, the Yankees’ radio broadcaster I listen to sometimes on my tour through MLB radio stations. She’s divisive, but I like her and her Boston accent (which doesn’t help the divisiveness), distinctive in a world of broadcasterly plains. I’d always assumed she was the first female baseball announcer, but it turns out that’s not quite true. She was preceded by two women in the 1960s—hired, naturally, by Charlie Finley and Bill Veeck.

The first was Betty Caywood, a Kansas City native, a former professional dancer and “midwest fashion coordinator for leading dress manufacturers” with a master’s in speech pathology from Northwestern. In the mid-60s, Caywood was the “weather girl” (she was 31, but, you know) for channel 7 in Chicago, when the Trib captured her in the language of the time:

Betty likes to wear slacks, dislikes heavy makeup; she loves to cook gourmet meals, hates to go to bed early. She’s a natural mimic, unconsciously slips into a soft southern drawl even on TV. Her blue-green eyes sparkle when she talks, which is most of the time.

By way of statistics for the men, Betty is a perfect size 10, wishes she had a true model’s figure, but complains she’s “a bit hippy.” Maybe, but she looks well in slacks, the ultimate test.

Finley, the flamboyant owner of the atrocious Kansas City Athletics, hired Caywood as one of his stunts. She was entirely ignorant of the sport—including that the Yankees’ number seven was Mickey Mantle—but Finley offered her a ton of money to do color, along with relocation expenses, so she took the job.

Repoz Posted: September 26, 2012 at 04:44 PM | 1 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: announcers, history

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   1. Greg K Posted: September 26, 2012 at 05:07 PM (#4246569)
Cassie Campbell has handled herself fine on Hockey Night in Canada (as far as I recall). Without looking into it I'd guess she's one of the few women who has a broadcasting job for a major sports program primarily by virtue of her talent in that sport.

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