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Oakland A’s Hire First Female Primary Play-by-Play Broadcaster in M.L.B.

SportOakland A’s Hire First Female Primary Play-by-Play Broadcaster in M.L.B.

Jenny Cavnar continues to climb the broadcasting ranks, and this time, she’s making history in her new gig as the Oakland A’s play-by-play announcer.

The A’s announced Cavnar’s hiring Tuesday, making her the first female primary play-by-play voice in MLB history.

“It is a dream come true to join the broadcast team for the Oakland A’s and their rich baseball history,” Cavnar said in a statement. “Growing up the daughter of a baseball coach, I have loved the game from a young age, along with the stories, history, and relationships the game provides.”

Cavnar will work alongside NBC Sports California color commentator Dallas Braden, who welcomed her to the broadcast booth in a video on social media.

Cavnar heads to Oakland after working as a Colorado Rockies reporter, backup play-by-play announcer and pregame and postgame host over the past 12 years.

In April 2018, she became the first woman in 25 years to call TV play-by-play for an MLB game when the Rockies hosted the San Diego Padres. It was a fitting first game for her to call since Cavnar previously covered the San Diego Padres as a reporter and anchor for nearly five years.

“I met Jenny more than a dozen years ago through a mutual friend,” A’s pre- and post-game host Brodie Brazil told The Athletic. “Followed her trajectory ever since, and it was always pretty clear she’d arrive at an opportunity like this. When I knew she was interviewing, I would have been disappointed if NBC didn’t bring her on. She’ll do great work and be well received — not only calling games … but also carrying Dallas Braden.”

Cavnar also calls men’s and women’s college basketball and has previously covered the Anaheim Ducks and San Diego State University athletics.

Braden on teaming up with Cavnar

This will be Cavnar and Braden’s first time in the booth together, but the two have been close friends for many years. Cavnar’s husband, former White Sox’s minor-league right-hander Steven Spurgeon, was one of Braden’s closest friends and teammate on a travel team in high school. Braden says Cavnar’s knowledge of the game is elite.

“I always tell (Spurgeon), man, I can’t wait for us to hang out because I can finally talk baseball. He’s like, I played professionally, but I tell him you don’t know s— about baseball but your wife, she and I can talk ball,” Braden told The Athletic with a laugh.

When asked to compare Cavnar to any other broadcaster out there, he described her as a “one of one.”

“This is the first female play-by-play broadcaster in Major League Baseball history,” he said. “So I would be lying to you and I would be making s— up if I were to tell you that she sounds like somebody because she doesn’t, because there’s nobody like her. She’s Jenny.”

Braden admits he was a little biased toward his friend during the audition process but also says that knowing her for as long as he has, he’s seen how her work ethic and professionalism come into play with a broadcast.

“(Her preparation) was nothing I was ever concerned with, or was curious about because I knew what type of professional she was, and I knew how good at her job she was,” Braden said, noting the work Cavnar has done announcing basketball, as well as baseball.

Braden says he and Cavnar have had conversations about the team dating back to the end of last season. He knows she’ll have a difficult task ahead trying to get to know the organization before Opening Day but hopes that fans will be patient. She’ll also be able to lean on the experience Braden and the A’s radio broadcast booth of longtime veterans Ken Korach, Vince Cotroneo and Johnny Doskow have with the A’s organization.

“I can imagine how difficult it is coming into a place that you are unfamiliar with, and you’re being asked to be the conduit between an organization and its fan base,” he said. “Remember that she’s trying to do a job that comes with 50-plus years of background history, and she’s trying to learn all of that on the fly.

“I think with the way that she prepares, she’s going to put herself in a great position to succeed.”

The work begins this spring for the A’s new TV broadcast crew, and for Braden, it’s a dream come true.

“For me, it’s one of those moments where this doesn’t happen ever that you get to work with one of your best friends calling the game that you love,” he said. “Those relationships develop when you have that opportunity, but her and I already have this incredible friendship that we now get to tap into at work.”

(Photo: Sam Wasson / Getty Images)


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