VISALIA, Calif. – “The pitch to Diaz, a line drive into right center field, Fabian going back, he’s looking up, reaches up and wow, what an amazing catch by him as he rams into the right field wall!”
Those are the words of Jill Gearin. She is in her first season as the play-by-play announcer for the Visalia Rawhide.
“My love for the game kinda started with going to baseball games with my dad and learning how to keep score,” says Gearin. “Because that keeps you involved in the game. You learn the strategy that way.”
Jill Gearin started playing baseball when she was six years old. Eventually she transitioned into softball, a sport she played for four years at Emerson College in Boston. She was a team captain as a senior.
“It’s a little bit different,” says Gearin, referring to softball vs baseball. “But I know this sport in and out when it comes to strategy, for the most part.
“I’m still learning a lot.”
Jill Gearin is a pioneer. She is the first-ever female play-by-play announcer in the California League.
“I think it’s very surreal,” she says. “More so just it’s 2019, what are we doing? But there is a little bit of a pride in that.”
Gearin knows there are plenty of people who are hesitant to have a woman announce a baseball game (“I know I’m strong enough to kinda take the bullets and take the criticism”), but there is also plenty of support out there for her.
“She’s doing great. My family says it’s a lot of fun to listen to her talk,” says Rawhide pitcher Breckin Williams, who grew up with five sisters. “It’s refreshing to hear someone, a woman, call play by play.”
Adds Rawhide catcher Tim Susnara, “Any way that a female can come in and just really open the game up and change the game, and give people a different perspective, is awesome.”
It is normal for Jill Gearin to work a 12-hour day. And most of what she does is behind the scenes: gathering stats, putting together lineups, studying the starting pitchers and conducting interviews.
That doesn’t leave her a lot of time to do “girly” things such as put on makeup.
“That usually does not happen,” she laughs. “Honestly, usually my hair is up by 3 o’clock. Can’t broadcast without a ponytail, right?”
Adds Gearin, “the baseball team has gotten used to me without makeup. If I wear makeup, they say, ‘you look different today.'”
It is the dream of every minor league baseball player to one day make it to the major leagues. Jill Gearin wants to make it to the majors as well: in the booth.
“I think we need more women in this game,” she says. “I think baseball is the greatest game in the world and if someone, a woman, anybody, wants to be in it, they should have the right to do their job no matter the profession.”