Photo credit: @NYDNSports
By: Amaury Pi-Gonzalez
The New York Yankees paid their recent visit to the Oakland Athletics at the Coliseum. Prior to the last game of the three-game series, I spoke with WFAN’s Suzyn Waldman, who handles commentary on all Yankee games with play-by-play man John Sterling.
Suzyn has been broadcasting sports for 32 years. This interview was conducted inside her broadcast booth at the Coliseum a good three hours prior to the game that night.
Q: Suzyn, how did you got started in sports broadcasting after 30 years of doing this?
A: Oh boy, well when I started I was in theater before I did this and musical theater it was changing and the only other thing I knew was sports, because I had my own season-tickets at baseball games with my grandfather when I was three and I was a sports person, but it was always my avocation, because little girls didn’t do that, and I was on Broadway and I sang and dance did all that and I go to ballgames, and…a friend of mine who used to be the announcer for the Boston Red Sox, Ken Coleman–we were very very close friends he said, “you know I have a friend and this next year they are starting this thing in New York it’s going to be called WFAN…and I told him he’s going to meet you, because you know more about sports than anybody I know and you’re female and they’re going to need a woman so I made a tape.
I didn’t know what I was doing and I was hired to do updates, I was actually the first voice on WFAN in 1987 so that’s the beginning, but then I realized that nobody wanted me there because I was female, so then it became something else and it became don’t you dare to talk to me like that, and don’t you tell me I don’t know because I am female…and so that’s how that started with people saying “no.”
Q: How do you feel being a pioneer? Actually there still not that many women in sports broadcasting in baseball like, say Jessica Mendoza, anymore.
A: Well I wasn’t trying to be a pioneer, I was just trying to make a living and I didn’t like being told I didn’t know anything…to tell you the truth I expected there to be a lot more women, it is just me in the broadcast booth, I know Jessica does ESPN, but it is only one game a week … it is just me and I am waiting for someone else to do this I know there are women down in the minor leagues trying to to this to get a chance or whether or not they give up, I think there is no failures. It’s just people that give up too soon.
Q: Is this more fun that playing Dulcinea in Man of LaMancha?
A: Nothing is more fun that being Dulcinea in Man of La Mancha. You know I did get over theater, although I miss it everyday, but I am still on stage. This a different stage, but I’m still performing. I don’t sing and dance anymore and I don’t get applause … Yeah, I miss theater everyday … but this is important and this is where I should be”
Q: Your best message for a young female that aspires to be in sports broadcasting like you maybe in baseball.
A: Think of what you can do that’s difference from everybody else go and look in the mirror and say to yourself, “I have a different way of looking at this, and I am going to do this, don’t let anybody stop you, because people are going to say no, you do commercials on television, you’ll get 200 no, before you get a commercial, but don’t let people tell you ‘no.'” You will know … and don’t want to be me, don’t want to be Jessica, just be you, because if you take my job is just one, but if it’s you, then there are two of us. Don’t let anybody stop you.
It was truly a pleasure to interview Suzyn for the first time, despite the fact we’ve known each other for decades during baseball games at many parks across the country.
Amaury Pi-González is the Spanish voice of the A’s and since 2016, he’s in the Advisory Board of the American Sportscasters Association in New York City.