By Kelly Werthmann
DENVER (CBS4) – History was made at Coors Field on Monday night – or, as Ryan Spilborghs calls it, ‘Her-story.’
For the first time in 25 years, a woman called play-by-play for a major league telecast. But it wasn’t just any woman, it was Jenny Cavnar.
“It’s really exciting,” Cavnar told CBS4’s Kelly Werthmann. “I’m honored.”
Cavnar – a Smoky Hill High School & Colorado State University graduate – has covered Major League Baseball for more than a decade – first in San Diego with the Padres before returning to Colorado, her home state, in 2012.
She is the host of the Rockies pre- and post-game shows, and even spits knowledge on the sideline from time to time.
“I love telling the players’ stories and sharing them with fans,” Cavnar said. “My 12 years of covering a baseball team has been either the Padres or the Rockies, so it’s kind of fun they’re going head to head for my first go.”
To be fair, Cavnar said she got her first shot at play-by-play calling during spring training in Arizona. However, Monday’s matchup was the real deal – a regular season game.
“It feels almost like you’re a minor leaguer at spring training in the big league game, but now it’s the big leagues and you get your call up,” she said. “It’s exciting and fun.”
When it comes to nerves, Cavnar said she doesn’t really have any. She’s confident in her knowledge of the game – she basically grew up with the sport as her dad, Steve Cavnar, is a Colorado High School Baseball Hall of Fame coach – her passion for the teams and, most importantly she said, the support of her colleagues.
“I’m just really grateful I have their encouragement,” she said. “They’re really progressive in their thinking. We also have a lot of women present – our producer, director, chyron director – and they’re putting their mark on this game. Spilly and Huey are such great supporters, too. They’re obviously very natural and knowledgeable about the game and have so much to share.”
In case you didn’t know, ‘Spilly’ and ‘Huey’ are Rockies game analysts and MLB veterans – Ryan Spilborghs and Jeff Huson. Spilly called Cavnar’s debut “making Her-story.”
“This was a long time coming,” he told Werthmann. “A female broadcast voice in major league baseball is necessary. Jenny has just as much intelligence knowing the game as anybody, probably more so than me, and I hope people realize how passionate she is about this. This is a really big deal for her and it’s a big deal for our broadcast.”
Cavnar joins the short list of women to call play-by-play for the MLB. Gayle Gardner was first to do so back in 1993 when she called a game for the Rockies versus the Cincinnati Reds. Suzyn Waldman, according to MLB.com, occasionally calls play-by-play on the radio for the Yankees. It’s those women and others that Cavnar said she is grateful for shattering the glass ceiling in sports coverage.
“There’s plenty of women doing play-by-play for the NFL, college football, college basketball,” Cavnar said. “They’re such an inspiration.”
Now Cavnar hopes she can be an inspiration for other young women to be unafraid to break barriers.
“If there’s a little girl out there tonight that wants to have that big dream and it’s because they get to hear a voice that’s different calling a game than they’ve heard before, that’s awesome,” she said.
Kelly Werthmann joined the CBS4 team as the morning reporter in 2012. After serving as weekend morning anchor, Kelly is now Covering Colorado First for CBS4 News at 10. Connect with Kelly on Facebook or follow her on Twitter @KellyCBS4.