The coronavirus pandemic and MLB shutdown won’t stop the Mariners from hosting an important off-the-field event about growing changes in baseball.
After three years of hosting a “Women in Baseball” event with a panel discussion for fans before games, the Mariners have expanded this year’s panel discussion to women in all sports — celebrating their accomplishments and talking about challenges they face.
With no games at T-Mobile Park in the near future, the Mariners decided to host a virtual panel in place of an in-person gathering, and a recording of the discussion will air on the Mariners’ YouTube channel Wednesday at 10 a.m. PDT.
The Mariners will air the recording a day after the anniversary of Title IX, a civil-rights law passed in 1972 that, in the sports world, mandates equal opportunities for women and men in federally funded institutions, such as public schools.
“The result (of Title IX) has been increased involvement of girls and women in sports at all levels,” the Mariners said in a news release. “All of the members of the panel cite their participation in sports as a key factor in their success in pursuing sports as a career.”
Led by moderator Angie Mentink of ROOT Sports, this year’s panel includes:
- Amanda Lee, Mariners minor-league athletic trainer
- Jessamyn McIntyre, 710 ESPN Producer, Major League Rugby sideline reporter
- Kim Ng, Major League Baseball Sr. Vice President, Baseball Operations
- Ingrid Russell-Narcisse, Mariners Senior Director, Corporate Partnerships
- Heather Tarr, University of Washington softball coach and U.S. U-19 National Team coach
“You have to be thoroughly prepared,” said Ng, MLB’s highest-ranking woman executive, about breaking into a field dominated by men. “We’re still at a point where we’re going to have to outshine the guys to get noticed, to get promoted.”
While working for the Everett AquaSox last season, Lee felt that, although staff and players always treated her with respect, the job and situation still presented challenges as the only woman on the Mariners’ athletic training staff.
“Between innings, if I need to run up to the restroom real quick, there’s nowhere to go,” Lee said. “Where am I supposed to go? I have to go wait on the concourse with everybody else that’s trying to go to the restroom in the middle of the game, but I have to be back out there before that next inning starts. I face it every day. Getting into it, the first couple of weeks, were difficult. I just had to figure out a way to do it.”
McIntyre, a producer at ESPN 710 since its debut, started her career at ESPN’s campus in Bristol, Connecticut. On her first day at ESPN, a prominent NFL analyst came into the control room where she was working with her three bosses, got down on one knee, and said, “You look great, you smell great, why don’t you just marry me?”
She was just 22.
“And everybody laughed,” McIntyre said. “How am I supposed to react in that situation when my bosses are finding this hilarious?”
Russell-Narcisse, who is Black and is one of the few women of color working in an MLB front office, pointed to a lack of role models as a roadblock.
“It would help if we had more women in leadership positions at Major League Baseball and other areas,” she said. “There’s something to be said about seeing yourself in someone else’s shoes that’s ahead of you. So, opening up that pipeline to the executive level, getting more women in there, encouraging each other and bringing others along would also help.”
In addition to the discussion, the panel also features an interview with 13-year-old Cora Morgan of Shoreline, who is the only girl on her baseball team. Even at her young age, she’s passionate about gender equity in sports.
“I hope that some people can learn to be a lot more open-minded,” Morgan said. “Baseball is a fun game. Everyone should be able to and allowed to play. Because baseball shouldn’t be America’s pastime if it isn’t for everyone.”