Day 6

She — yes she — is making history as a play-by-play announcer in Minor League Baseball

Emma Tiedemann is the new voice of the Lexington Legends baseball team. She's just the second woman to announce for a minor league team and she has her eye on the majors.
Emma Tiedemann is the new voice of the Lexington Legends and is second woman to be a team play-by-play announcer in all of affiliated Minor League Baseball. (Lexington Legends)
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At the age of 25, Emma Tiedemann has taken a giant step toward landing her dream job of calling a game in Major League Baseball.

Last week, the Lexington Legends named Tiedemann as the voice of their Minor League Baseball club, which is affiliated with the Kansas City Royals.

I would be over the moon if I was able to call a Major League Baseball game or to have this position with a major league club.- Emma Tiedemann, announcer for the Lexington Legends

Tiedemann is only the second woman to be the voice of an affiliated minor league team, joining Kirsten Karbach who is with the Clearwater Threshers in Florida.

There are currently no female play-by-play announcers for any major league teams, but Tiedemann tells Day 6 host Brent Bambury that she'd like to change that.

"I would be over the moon if I was able to call a major league baseball game or to have this position with a major league club," says Tiedemann.

Her grandfather, her mentor

​Even though she's only 25, Tiedemann already has 10 years of play-by-play experience behind her.

Emma Tiedemann is only the second woman to be a play-by-play announcer for a Minor League Baseball team. (Emma Tiedemann/Twitter)

She started calling games at the University of North Texas when she was 15 years old.

"My grandfather was a local broadcaster in the Dallas area at the time and he was having to do a women's college basketball game, and had me there to keep score," explains Tiedemann.

"And during that time, he just kind of handed me the headset and said, 'hey you know the game of basketball, if you want to say something, feel free,'" she says. "And, as they say, the rest is history."

Tiedemann's grandfather is Bill Mercer, a member of the Texas Radio Hall of Fame, the first voice of the Texas Rangers and the former play-by-play announcer for the Dallas Cowboys who called the infamous 1967 Super Bowl game, now known as the 'Ice Bowl.'

[He] became the ultimate mentor that anyone could ever ask for.- Emma Tiedemann, announcer for the Lexington Legends

"When I was growing up, I heard all of the stories that he had to tell," says Tiedemann of her grandfather.

"I went to the University of Missouri and then on to other baseball teams," she says. "You know, he would stay up late at night listening to my broadcast and then sending me critiques. Either that night, or I'd receive an e-mail the next morning, so he dove right in with it … [he] became the ultimate mentor that anyone could ever ask for."

The path to Lexington

After that first game calling play-by-play with her grandfather, Tiedemann was hired — while still a high school student — to call more games at the university, and for additional sports.

After graduating high school, Tiedemann went on to the University of Missouri where she joined the student radio station and called games there, again, for many different sports. But, having not played the sport growing up, she always felt baseball was her weak spot for play-by-play.

I just fell in love with that atmosphere.- Emma Tiedemann, announcer for the Lexington Legends

"So I decided that I was going to try and spend a summer calling collegiate wood bat baseball," she explains. "Then the door opened to have me go to Alaska, of all places, to be part of the broadcast duo for the Matsu Miners in Palmer, Alaska."

The Miners are part of the Alaska Baseball League, which runs from June through to the first week of August, before the college players return to school. The Alaska league is also home to the Midnight Sun game, held on the summer solstice.

"After I spent that first season in Alaska, going to the ball field, going on the bus, traveling with the team, working those late nights, I just fell in love with that atmosphere," explains Tiedemann.

"And so my career goals shifted from hopefully working for a network to wanting to work for a baseball team."

The gender issue

Professional baseball is a sport dominated by men; the players are men, many of the owners are men, and all but two of the team commentators are men.

So how hard has it been for Tiedemann to get respect and recognition in such a male-dominated field?

Hiring me on, and in a position that is definitely more male-dominated, they're kind of getting a little bit more attention for that.- Emma Tiedemann, announcer for the Lexington Legends

"You know it's had its moments. I've had quite a few moments, actually, of people pointing out my gender and saying 'well ... we don't see a lot of women wanting to do this job.' Those people though are mostly in the minority," says Tiedemann.

Tiedemann says that the majority of people are very supportive.

"They are rooting me on in a sense, because it is challenging at times to pursue this job."

In the Lexington Herald Leader, Legends president and CEO Andy Shea said that Tiedemann's gender was never a factor in her hiring.

"Everything impressed us about Emma," Shea said. "Her energy, her knowledge of the game, her knowledge of the industry ... that's what we needed, especially this first year of going to the full stream versus on radio. She was the perfect person."

The Legends are owned by a woman, Susan Martinelli Shea. And according to Tiedemann, the front office staff is approximately 50 per cent female.

"As a whole, this team has been kind of progressive, but now ... with hiring me on, and in a position that is definitely more male-dominated, they're kind of getting a little bit more attention for that," says Tiedemann.

The next step

Tiedemann has already called some important games in her career, her most memorable being the 2014 Cotton Bowl in Arlington, Texas.

"It was my first time calling a game in a venue such as, you know, Dallas Cowboys Stadium, also known as AT&T Stadium."

In the end, if I was able to be on a major league broadcast, it would all be worth it.- Emma Tiedemann, announcer for the Lexington Legends

But that wasn't the only reason why the Cotton Bowl stands out.

"It was also, I think it was 30 to 40 years difference between when I called the Cotton Bowl and when my grandfather called the Cotton Bowl," she says. "So that was was pretty special."

But Tiedemann hopes for even bigger games to come, and in the big leagues.

"I mean, that's the goal for me."

"Like all the other minor league players, you know, you have to move up through the ranks … just kind of paying your dues to the minor league system. So I'll just take a little bit of time and just a lot of hard work."

"But in the end, if I was able to be on a major league broadcast, it would all be worth it."

Opening Day for the Lexington Legends is April 5th.


To hear our full interview with Emma Tiedemann, download our podcast or click the 'Listen' button at the top of this page.