26/05/2024

Amy McCann in the broadcast booth during the Australian Women's Baseball Showcase. (Photo: Amy McCann/Twitter)

The Australian Women's Baseball Showcase was helped by former Emeralds representative Amy McCann's contribution behind the mic.

Former Emeralds representative Amy McCann has reflected on her contribution to last month’s Australian Women’s Baseball Showcase.

In a different role to what the six-time World Cup representative has been used to when it comes to baseball, McCann spent the weekend behind the microphone, contributing to a broadcast that was beamed around the world.

“I absolutely loved it. The fact I was actually able to commentate a women’s baseball game, the fact it was being broadcast, I think was the most amazing thing,” McCann told The Inner Sanctum.

“The fact there was an opportunity to call a game of women’s baseball that is being shown around the world is so awesome. It went so quickly, four games in two days. I wanted to call another game. I was buzzing.

“I woke up the next day and it was like the end of a nationals. At the end of the nationals, there’s this thing we have called ‘post-nationals depression’ when it ends. I had post-broadcast depression.”

Last month’s event was a momentous occasion for women’s baseball in the country. The Australian Women’s Baseball Showcase saw 33 players from five states and territories make up two rosters for a four-game series in Adelaide.

The very best female baseballers in the country converged on Bennett Field in West Beach and were out to highlight their skills on the diamond. Day 1 produced big hits across two games while Day 2 was more defensive as each side ended the series with two wins.

The two teams who competed in the Showcase, the Adelaide Giants and the Brisbane Bandits, are two organisations that have been granted provisional licences for a professional women’s competition. On the first weekend of May, the dream was beginning to be realised for many involved in the sport.

Caitlin Eynon of the Adelaide Giants prepares to pitch in Game 4 of the Australian Women’s Baseball Showcase. (Photo: Ryan Schembri/Rush Media/SMP Images)

The first phone call and preparations

McCann recounts the time she was first approached by Baseball Australia to assist in broadcasting the Australian Women’s Baseball Showcase. She became the second woman to call baseball on Australian screens, behind former Emeralds player and manager Simone Wearne, who’s commentated ABL games in the past.

“I actually remember getting asked by Baseball Australia back in December. They asked me and I was so excited, I couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t believe I was being asked,” McCann recalls.

“We had a meeting with Baseball Australia and I was just so excited, the product of what was happening. It was just so exciting that women’s baseball was moving towards things like this.

“It sort of just dawned on me [that] this is an opportunity, this is an option now. This is that whole post-career option for people.”

After receiving the offer and learning of the news that Baseball Australia was intent on showcasing women’s baseball, ideas were swarming around in McCann’s head about what this meant and where it could lead.

It was an exciting thought to her that women’s baseball was moving towards events like the Showcase.

“The emotions were just awesome for women’s baseball before anything and then it was just, ‘Wow, I get to do this, this is amazing’. It was almost like being picked for Australia in a way”, McCann said.

Prior to travelling to Adelaide for the Showcase, and amid the many COVID-induced postponements, McCann prepared for her broadcast debut by commentating the Victorian Summer Baseball League’s Women’s Division 1 Grand Final.

When McCann heard that she was to be commentating the Showcase, she immediately sensed that she needed some practice beforehand.

She reached out to Baseball Victoria CEO Kristie Middleton and put her hand up to be a part of the livestream, with the intention of sitting next to Baseball Victoria Communications and Digital Marketing Coordinator Rachael Bouley in the booth.

When it would be revealed she would take the helm of the broadcast herself, McCann was startled. Not wishing to be alone in commentating, McCann proposed the idea of having fellow Emeralds teammate Samantha Hamilton join her on the day.

“I had to do the play-by-play and then it kind of just morphed into us just commentating a game together and it was heaps of fun,” McCann said.

“I took away so much from it. I thought we brought that knowledge… listening to it back… we said some really good stuff.”

That knowledge and the learning opportunity McCann took away from the VSBL broadcast was valuable to ready herself for the Showcase.

“That learning of how to say it and how to use your voice, what pitch and excitement level. I walked away and just went ‘woah, you need to learn all about tha,t’ but I’d never done it before. But I’m so glad I did it,” McCann said.

“I’m so glad I did it because not only did I just have an absolute ball doing it but… we had people messaging us, [saying] it made [the broadcast] better cause we had so much knowledge. It was nice that we could make it better for people.”

McCann divulged that people have said her and Hamilton need to revisit their commentary during the corresponding game next season. It prompted McCann to not be too quick to respond just yet, hoping she’ll be playing instead.

“People say ‘you’ve got to do it next year’. Kristie’s like ‘we’ll definitely have you back next year’ and we’re like ‘hmm, we’re coming back to play next year and hopefully we’re in the grand final!’

“I’ll commentate from centerfield or the bench or something, wherever I might be playing! Just mic us up!”

Learning from the best in the biz

McCann, being new to the world of broadcast, was thankful to be guided by two veterans of the game across the Australian Women’s Baseball Showcase weekend. McCann was joined in the booth by former Major League Baseball pitcher Shayne Bennett and ABL and WBSC commentator Andrew Reynolds.

“I think I wrote more notes down about broadcast during the games as I did about the games,” McCann commented.

Over the weekend, the three commentators each had a role to play in the broadcast, based on their individual knowledge of different aspects of the game and its players.

“They were very clear at the start to stay in our own lanes as such so Andrew was calling the game, he called what was happening. Shayne talked about the how and I talked about the why and the who,” McCann said.

“There was some crossovers and that sort of helped us not to talk over each there but it was great cause they’d always look to me for stories on the players and the plays and stuff like that. And I was looking to them for their roles.”

The amount of things that McCann picked up while sitting next to Bennett and Reynolds was invaluable and insightful to further learn about the game and its strategies.

“I learnt more about pitching and strategies from pitching in those games from Shayne Bennett than I reckon I did in my whole career.” McCann said.

McCann said it was helpful for the broadcast that she was aware of and knew each of the players involved in the Showcase. She says it made for a feeling of a connection between her and the players, which extended to the audience.

“Being able to bring my knowledge of the payers from having played with them, coached them, played against them and bring that to life with all the knowledge and history I have in the sport as a player.

“I think it was really nice to have someone who has that inside knowledge…putting that all out there and hopefully bringing something extra to the broadcast which I think I did.”

McCann conceded it was tough at times to know what to say and when, keeping in mind the potential for something to happen on the field that could impact a story being told. She was also quick to point out that not every story was able to be told, such was the vast array of tales she could tell.

“It was hard. We had the headsets on, people were talking to you, we had all these hand signals and you start to tell a story but then a play, something happens so you have to stop.” McCann said.

Despite the difficulties, McCann realised the biggest challenge was catering to a television audience more so than describing what might be happening outside the frame of the camera.

“I wanted to watch the field but I had to watch the television. If I started talking about something that wasn’t on television, I have to remember that I’m actually talking to the people who are watching on TV,” McCann said.

Amy McCann, Shayne Bennett and Andrew Reynolds made up the commentary team at the Australian Women’s Baseball Showcase. (Photo: Amy McCann/Twitter)

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A look to broadcasting in the future

McCann enjoyed her time in the booth so much that she admitted she would one hundred percent be open to commentating women’s baseball in a full-time capacity in the future.

“I think it’d be your dream to be able to, if your sport got to that position where you had an opportunity to be a full-time anything in the sport, and be paid, for women’s sport, dream,” McCann said.

“Whatever the case may be, if this immediate summer we see a women’s ABL which I dearly hope we do, I have already expressed my interest to Baseball Australia to be involved.”

McCann is excited by the growing number of females in broadcast and media and looks to current Melbourne Demons AFLW player and commentator Daisy Pearce as an example of what can be achieved. It’s the ‘giving back’ mentality that propels McCann forward into contributing more to women’s sport.

“I think it’s great. You see so many females commentating now. Not just females commentating female sport,” McCann states.

“I think Daisy Pearce is an amazing analyst of [Aussie Rules football] and she needs to be more up-and-centre. It’s got nothing to do with the fact that she’s a woman, she’s just a great commentator.”

Feeling like there’s an inherent need for females to push their way through and start in the sport of their gender, McCann is of the opinion that especially for women’s baseball, it provides the chance to give back to the sport, aside from playing.

“It’s like when you’re a player, you’re also a coach, you’re probably on the board of your committee, you’re just doing all these different things,” McCann says.

“Giving back in some way, volunteering your time to commentate, it’s nothing new, it’s just another way, going out and getting an opportunity and going ‘yep, we want a female’.”

McCann admits it was never really an option for female baseballers to add their voice to broadcasts due to the concerning nature that prior to 2001, in Australia, there was no national women’s baseball team.

“Having an option to have a female that’s played I think is great, but if this was 20 years ago there were no players that had played for Australia cause there wasn’t an Australian team,” McCann conveyed.

“It’s great we now have this position, as ex-players, that can actually move into these roles like you see so many sports like the swimming and the tennis, all that kind of stuff.”

Most of all, McCann is committed to continuing to engage with women’s baseball and be a presence across different platforms to share the many stories she has.

She is already doing so through her writing for Siren Sport and her own podcast Inside Pitch which she launched in April.

“In a heartbeat, I’d jump back in with Shayne and Andrew if I could cause that was heaps of fun,” McCann said.

“I’d love to jump back into that similar role and do a lot of, whether it’s broadcast, podcast, anything to do with a women’s league. If it’s paid or not paid, I’d love to just to whatever I can to promote it.

“As I keep saying, I’ve got all this stuff in my head and if I can bring it out, and I can only get better, I hope and I’m doing a lot to try and improve that side of the broadcast, obviously.

“If I can get better and they will take me, then hopefully people will listen and enjoy it.”

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