|Birth name||Suzyn Waldman|
September 7, 1946 |
|Show||New York Yankees baseball|
|Previous show(s)||YES Network
Suzyn Waldman (born September 7, 1946) is a sportscaster and former musical theater actress. Starting with the 2005 season, she has been the color commentator for New York Yankees baseball, working with John Sterling on radio broadcasts, first for WCBS-AM and currently for WFAN in New York City. She graduated from Simmons College with a degree in Economics.
Waldman was born in Newton, Massachusetts. Prior to her broadcasting career, Waldman worked for many years as an actress and singer in musical theatre. Her most notable role was as Aldonza in Man of La Mancha. Her rendition of "There Used To Be a Ballpark" appeared on the 1995 WMHT-TV documentary Local Heroes: Jason Ziemann and Baseball on Capital Region Diamonds. Also, she has performed the National Anthem at many Yankee home games.
Waldman is noted for her early achievements in the male-dominated field of sports broadcasting. She is the third woman in Major League Baseball history to serve as a full-time color commentator on a regular basis. (Betty Caywood of the Kansas City Athletics served as a color commentator for a few games late in the 1964 season, and Mary Shane served as a play-by-play announcer for the Chicago White Sox in 1977.) In the mid-1990s, she was a play-by-play announcer for the Yankees' local TV broadcasts on WPIX, which made her the second woman to serve in that capacity on TV for a major league team. (Gayle Gardner was the first to do so in 1993 for the Colorado Rockies.)
She has worked in sports reporting for more than 20 years, as a former broadcaster for the YES Network as the reporter on the New York Yankees Pre-Game Show and the New York Yankees Post-Game Show and New York sports radio station WFAN. Her voice—on a live sports update—was the first heard on WFAN when it premiered on 1050 AM at 3:00 PM on July 1, 1987 (it moved to 660 AM a year later). At WFAN, she covered both the Yankees and the New York Knicks basketball teams and co-hosted the daily mid-day sports talk show.
At the start of the 1987 baseball season, Toronto Blue Jays outfielder George Bell wasn’t talking to the New York media, thinking they had cost him the Most Valuable Player award the year earlier. He broke his silence after a win at Yankee Stadium, and expectedly the regular beat writers hurriedly gathered around his locker. New on the beat (women had just recently been allowed access to the locker room), Waldman joined the group; Bell immediately started screaming at her in Spanish and English.
“There was a deathly silence. I think the other writers were shocked, but I also think they still resented me more than a bit, and they certainly didn't want to lose this interview,” she recalled on a radio show. “At the time I was a little less tough than I am now. Tears welled up in my eyes and I said I better get out of there.”
As she hastily gathered her tape recorder and notebook, she heard Bell’s fellow outfielder, Jesse Barfield, ask a fellow writer, "What's her name?" When told, he then called out to her: “Suzyn, I went three for four today. Don’t you want to ask me any questions?”
Waldman and Barfield, now a baseball announcer himself, became fast friends and have remained very close since.
In 1985, Yankees owner George Steinbrenner sent the GM to fire Berra, which greatly angered Berra because in all his other times being fired, the owner personally made the move. Yogi vowed not to visit Yankee Stadium and not to participate in any Yankee function as long as George Steinbrenner was still the owner of the Yankees. In 1999, Suzyn Waldman brokered a meeting between the two men that brought an end to the 14-year feud. Yogi's grand return was on Opening Day for the 1999 season, a day also designated as "Joe DiMaggio Day." During the 1999 season, Steinbrenner declared a Yogi Berra Day to honor him, to the thrill of Yankee fans everywhere. On that day, Don Larsen threw the ceremonial first pitch to Berra, and David Cone pitched a perfect game against the Montreal Expos. Yogi was showered with gifts from the Yankees, including a trip to visit the Pope.
In an online poll by Newsday, Waldman was voted the worst commentator in New York by the fans. New York Daily News columnist Bob Raissman has given Waldman the derisive nickname "Georgie Girl", an allusion to her close relationship with Steinbrenner (and a play on the title of the 1960s hit song "Georgy Girl").
WFAN-AM host Mike Francesa along with former co-host Chris "Mad Dog" Russo poked fun at her over-the-top reaction to the Roger Clemens signing in which she exclaimed "Roger Clemens is in George's box, and Roger Clemens is coming back. Oh, my good goodness gracious! Of all the dramatic things I've ever seen. Roger Clemens standing right in George Steinbrenner's box announcing he is back. Roger Clemens is a New York Yankee." Suzyn eventually confronted the duo in a long expletive-laced tirade, in which she expressed her obvious embarrassment of the situation. After the conversation, Mike and Chris vowed never to play the clip again, only to play it repeatedly later on in the evening. The clip is also played to mocking effect on Boston sports radio WEEI and for comedy on Boomer and Carton in the Morning, The Opie & Anthony Show, The Howard Stern Show, The Jim Rome Show, and ESPN Radio's The Herd with Colin Cowherd and The Dan Le Batard Show.
Waldman was roundly criticized for her breakdown on the air following the Yankees' 2007 Divisional Series loss to Cleveland. She openly cried on the air for WCBS 880 AM while reporting about the morose atmosphere in the Yankees clubhouse on the post-game show. Waldman made reference to the sight of fellow coaches in deep emotion, and their collective realization that Joe Torre's tenure as manager was likely at an end as reasons for her tears. In response to the incident, Waldman stated:
|“||This one's getting me angry, because I don't play this card a lot, but this is as sexist as it gets. What's the big damn deal? That I cried for four seconds of a 10-minute postgame? The idea that I can't choke up because a man I went through cancer with 11 years ago is going to lose his job and I was describing his coaches crying? It's absolutely ludicrous.||”|
In 1996, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. She eventually sued Mount Sinai Hospital and two of its pathologists for misdiagnosing her as being cancer-free, winning over $2 million in damages from the case. While her chemotherapy regimen limited (and eventually ended) her day-to-day role of broadcasting Yankees games on TV, she continued in her role at WFAN throughout her illness (now long in remission).