Jessica Mendoza Permanently Joins Sunday Night Baseball

Softball legend Jessica Mendoza will be a full-time member of ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball broadcast team during the 2016 season, it was announced in a news release by the network.

Mendoza, an Olympic legend and a longtime professional player, retired from playing in May of 2014. A member of ESPN since 2007, she has become a fixture in the booth during the softball postseason. She joined the Sunday Night booth late last season after Curt Schilling was suspended. She seized the opportunity and was rewarded Wednesday when the network announced its new team.

“It’s just crazy when I look back, and literally less than six months ago I had no idea what was going to happen after the Monday night games,” Mendoza told the Associated Press.

Mendoza, 35, didn’t give much thought to calling baseball until MLB analyst John Kruk took part in Women’s College World Series coverage.

Mendoza saw how knowledge of one sport could translate to the other. Still, she acknowledged, historically there was just “one-way traffic” — her father, a baseball coach, would guide her softball teams, but a woman typically wouldn’t instruct baseball players.

She later did some sideline reporting on men’s sports and studio work for “Baseball Tonight.” In June, Mendoza became the first female game analyst for a men’s College World Series telecast.

On Aug. 24, 2015, she called the Monday night matchup between the Cardinals and Diamondbacks. Following Schilling’s suspension, Mendoza made her Sunday Night Baeball debut on Aug. 30, 2015. That night, the Cubs’ Jake Arrieta made history by no-hitting the Dodgers. Mendoza also made history after her debut earned rave reviews, sticking on Sunday night the rest of the season and becoming the first female analyst to call a nationally televised MLB playoff game when she worked the AL wild-card matchup.

John Wildhack, ESPN’s executive vice president for programming and production, said Mendoza “seized the moment” when she got an opportunity. He to the Associated Press that as he talked to others in the industry about Mendoza’s performance, he realized: “Wow, this was not just good. This was really, really, really good.”

Her permanent assignment in 2016 will pair her again with veteran play-by-play man Dan Shulman, as well as Aaron Boone, who will make his own Sunday Night Baseball debut this season.

Also noted in the press release was Mendoza’s request to continue to call the Women’s College World Series. Though she’ll likely not be seen in softball broadcast booths during the rest of the season, she will be in Oklahoma City.

— Courtesy of ESPN and Justin’s World

Leave a Reply