(photo courtesy of bostonherald.com)
‘Family’ is a word that has always been closely associated with baseball. Perhaps more than any other sport, baseball offers something for every member of every family in America. In the case of Emma Tiedemann, current Director of Broadcasting for the Double-A Portland Sea Dogs, the role of broadcaster came with similar family ties. Emma’s grandfather, Bill Mercer, was the first play-by-play voice of the Texas Rangers in 1972. He is known for covering a wide array of sports, including professional wrestling, is a Texas Radio Hall-of-Famer, and even covered the JFK assasination. When Emma was 15, she joined her grandfather on a college basketball broadcast, and from that moment on, she knew she wanted to follow in her grandfather’s footsteps and pursue a career behind the mic.
“Without him, I wouldn’t be where I am today.”
Growing up just North of Dallas, Texas, Emma loved competition and played many sports. She recalls attending Frisco Roughriders games and credits the intimate setting and atmosphere of the minors with attracting her to baseball. From the moment she found her passion for broadcasting, Emma worked as much as she could, holding multiple play-by-play positions during her time at The University of Missouri-Columbia, where she acquired her bachelors degree.
Wanting to work year-round and acknowledging that baseball was her weakest sport in terms of play-by-play, Emma spent a Summer in Palmer, Alaska as the voice of the Mat-Su Miners of the Alaska Baseball League. The goal was to immerse herself in baseball for an entire season. Thanks to a highly competitive team that included players that would go on to professional careers, including major-leaguer Nick Senzel, Emma’s goal became a reality.
By the time Emma graduated college, she had realized that she wanted to focus on a career in baseball. This led her to a position with the Medford Rogues, another collegiate Summer club. It was during her time in Medford, Oregon that Emma developed professionally away from the microphone the most. This was her first foray into press releases, social media, and corporate sales. She knew these were attributes that would help her advance into and within affiliated baseball.
From there, Emma gained a one season education in how to produce a great product while having fun by joining the famous St. Paul Saints. The atmosphere surrounding the Saints exudes fun, from the players, to the fans, all the way up to the front office. While calling games for sold out crowds every night, Emma realized this was a unique environment, the likes of which she may never experience again. Mike Veeck and the rest of the Saints’ ownership group nurtures said environment by promoting a courage to fail, empowering the team’s employees to take risks and bring unconventional ideas to the table. Emma recalls Veeck telling stories of his own past failures while laughing and viewing them as positive learning experiences.
After attending the Minor League Baseball Winter meetings, Emma was able to land her first position within affiliated baseball with the Single-A Lexington Legends. In the midst of moving to a new city and preparing for the challenge of her new job, Emma was tasked with writing and sending out the press release that announced her as only the second female broadcaster in Minor League Baseball. She describes her first few weeks in Lexington as a whirlwind. Emma spent 2 seasons with the Legends, knowing that her goal was to make it to a Major League broadcast booth. While preparing for her third season in Lexington, she caught wind of an opportunity to climb the ladder, an opening with a Double-A club.
Throughout the interview process with the Portland Sea Dogs, Emma fell in love with the ballpark and community in Portland, Maine. She was ready to take the next step towards her goal but had an interesting first day on the job.
“So, I moved here in mid-March, and my first day in the office, we had a meeting at 8:45 that morning, and we were told to go home. We worked from home for the next 36 or 37 days. So, it was definitely a non-traditional start to a job.”
Going through this time of year without baseball has been surreal for Emma, but she appreciates the opportunity to become better acquainted with her new city, team, and coworkers. She admits that she has yet to adjust to the feeling of leaving the ballpark at 5 with no games or bus trips. Like many other teams, the Sea Dogs have found other creative ways to engage their fans and community, including a curbside pickup that allows the people of Portland to enjoy their favorite ballpark meals while they wait for the return of games.
Emma was very transparent in telling me that she never really viewed herself differently than her male counterparts. She believes that the culture is changing within baseball, and there is a newfound awareness that females are capable of excelling in careers in the game. Although she has been told multiple times by teams that they simply would not hire her because she is a woman, Emma is confident that we will see more women in baseball broadcast booths in the future. She also thinks that a women’s baseball league would be extremely beneficial to young girls growing up watching games. Representation is important to Emma, and she recalls seeing Kirsten Karbach become the first full-time female play-by-play announcer in Minor League Baseball and how that helped her believe she could achieve her own dream. Emma was also very complimentary of the WNBA’s work to showcase their players’ personalities in order to create stars and role models for young girls and women. Whether she realizes it or not, I think Emma Tiedemann is a fantastic role model for any young lady who hears her voice on a baseball broadcast.
You can follow Emma on Twitter @emmatieds. Also, be sure to follow me on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram to be the first to know when I post new articles. Thanks for reading!