Kevin Gorman: Baseball’s first female broadcast booth will be so Cool
Suzie Cool still can’t believe how quickly she became the center of a story that went viral on social media so fast she was soon reading about herself making history on Sports Illustrated’s website.
Only a year after Cool became the Carolina League’s first female broadcaster, the Salem (Va.) Red Sox announced the Clinton native would be part of baseball’s first all-female broadcast booth.
Cool will provide color commentary alongside Melanie Newman, who was hired to handle play-by-play for the advanced-Class A affiliate of the Boston Red Sox.
“It was the perfect opportunity. With her resume and 10 years of experience, she was the perfect candidate,” Cool said of Newman, who spent last season calling games as the No. 2 on play-by-play for the Frisco (Texas) RoughRiders, the Texas Rangers’ Double-A affiliate.
“I feel like we’ve crossed paths. Last year, before I made the jump into the booth, I was sitting at my desk and pretty discouraged because I didn’t know what was going to happen with my career, and I came across all these stories about Melanie. She was a large part of encouraging me to get in the booth.”
It’s a long list for Cool, 26, a former West Allegheny and Saint Vincent softball player who might be best known in local baseball circles as the former Pirates ball girl who scooped a screaming Jedd Gyorko one-hopper down the third base line at PNC Park.
Cool has worked for every pro team in town but the Steelers. She was sideline reporter for the Riverhounds, in-game host for the Wheeling Nailers, co-host of in-game entertainment for the Pirates, an intern for the Penguins, part-time producer for 93.7 The Fan and an intern for AT&T SportsNet before accepting a marketing and promotions and on-field host position with the Salem Red Sox.
In minor-league baseball, she’s required to do a bit of anything and everything at the stadium on game day. Cool runs the team’s social-media sites, writes scripts for the public-address announcer, does graphics for the video board, preps pre-game performers and coordinates giveaways on the concourse with the promotions crew.
Because of her game-day responsibilities, the plan is for Cool to work about 30 games as color analyst on road games. She also will try her hand at calling play-by-play for the first time when Newman has scheduling conflicts.
“I’m ready to knock that one off the bucket list,” Cool said. “My to-do list is absolutely insane. Every day, I cross something off, but I also add eight more things to be done before the season. I’m no stranger to getting four or five hours of sleep, working all day and going back to bed. I always say, ‘I don’t see challenges. I see opportunities.’ ”
Cool saw a golden opportunity last spring and convinced the club to give her a chance to call the opener of a three-game series against Potomac last May. It’s a short list of women broadcasting in baseball, with ESPN Sunday night analyst Jessica Mendoza and New York Yankees radio analyst Suzyn Waldman the most prominent. Cool joined a growing number of female broadcasters in the minors: Kirsten Karbach of the Clearwater Threshers, Emma Tiedeman of the Lexington Legends and Newman, whose career arc caught Cool’s attention.
Little did Cool know, they already had crossed paths — even though they’ve yet to meet. As Cool read stories about Newman and followed her on Instagram, she saw Newman had posted photos of herself from three years ago at McKechnie Field (now LECOM Park) in Bradenton, Fla., including one where she was interviewing Pirates manager Clint Hurdle, and at PNC Park.
Cool recalled Hurdle had once mentioned Newman in passing, noting he had met another woman interested in a career in baseball play-by-play and encouraged Cool to chase her dreams. So she got into the booth and made history.
Now, the duo will make more together.
“My whole world changed,” Cool said. “I don’t really have words for it. I don’t even have the right emotions for it yet. I don’t know how to react. It’s one of those moments where I’ve worked my entire life for this. To be in the moment, it’s like, whoa, this isn’t really happening.
“The best thing I can say is it’s really … cool.”
She jokes that it sounds corny, given her surname. But hers is a name worth remembering, as Cool chases her dream in broadcast booths at baseball parks and makes history with every check on her bucket list.
Kevin Gorman is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Kevin by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .