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A New Voice for Baseball : American League: Kelly Saunders could make history tonight when she serves as public address announcer for game at Camden Yards.

June 20, 1992|From Associated Press

BALTIMORE — Ladies and gentlemen . . . girls and boys . . . your attention, please. Now pinch hitting for Rex Barney . . . making her major league debut . . . Kelly Saunders.

Baseball history? Maybe.

Tonight at Camden Yards, Saunders may make baseball history when her voice booms through the public address system for the first time.

The Orioles have checked with the Baseball Hall of Fame and Major League Baseball, and so far neither can find evidence that a woman has ever worked as the public address announcer for a major league game.

"This is something you would bid on at an auction," said Saunders, who works as an entertainment reporter for WJZ-TV in Baltimore. "It's a great chance to do something like this."

Barney, in his 23rd season as the Orioles regular PA announcer, had his right leg amputated below the knee on May 26 because of circulation problems.

He's hoping to be back at the mike by July 1, but the team has used his recuperation period to audition others as possible full-time backups.

"My hat is off to the Orioles for being this innovative to give a woman this chance," Saunders said. "Maybe if I do well, it will give women the same chance in other organizations."

If not for a friend of Saunders, this chance might never have come about. The friend, who works in the Orioles' sound department, suggested her friend and the team called her.

"Yes, I was surprised they called me."

Saunders accepted and was at the ballpark on Friday, checking out the seat she'll be filling for a night and familiarizing herself with the sound system.

"I was a little nervous, but after today I feel pretty good about it," she said. "I got the hang of the echo."

Saunders, 42, was born and raised in Washington. She worked as a radio deejay in the nation's capital before moving to WJZ-TV five years ago.

The Orioles will be playing host to the New York Yankees on Saturday night. The game has long been sold out, and Saunders admits she'll have a rooting interest.

"I'm an earnest, avid Orioles fan," she said. "To me, a baseball game is not frivolity. When I go, I go to watch the game."

For one night, at least, she'll go to announce it.

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