Trailblazing play-by-play announcer shows representation matters to girls

·2 min read

Baltimore, Maryland — Ellee Dowdy eats, sleeps and talks baseball. The 11-year-old from Amherst, Virginia, announces for her local junior varsity team and practices big-league broadcasting from her living room.

But Dowdy didn't know girls could pursue that as a career until she listened to a Baltimore Orioles game, which was called by play-by-play announcer Melanie Newman. There are just a handful of female play-by-play announcers in the league, and Newman was part of the first all-female broadcast crew in history last summer.

Dowdy was so taken by her that last year, she reached out to Newman in the only way she knew how: she attended a game with a sign that read, "Hey Melanie Newman, need help in the booth?"

The answer was yes.

This week, Newman invited Dowdy to call part of a game because she assumed that's what the young girl wanted. And it was, in part.

But when Dowdy held up that sign, she didn't just want to help Newman in the booth, she wanted to help her as a person.

"I was just hoping that she would see it and see that a lot of young girls are looking up to her, because when Melanie was growing up, she had to push through all the people telling her that, 'no, only men can do that,'" Dowdy told CBS News.

It's true, and some men are still hurling sexist barbs at Newman on social media.  But there to deflect them, with her single-ply poster board, stands Dowdy, who returned with a new sign that read, "Melanie Newman is fire."

Newman appreciated the support.

"I've paid a lot of dues to get here," Newman told CBS News. "And the hope is when those little girls make those signs, their dues are so much less."

In sports, people are always clawing their way to the top. But the true heroes of any game are the ones who lift others.

To contact On the Road, or to send us a story idea, email us: OnTheRoad@cbsnews.com

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