Truth be told, Emma Tiedemann may have been a little naïve when she was hired as the Class A Lexington play-by-play broadcaster prior to the 2018 South Atlantic League season. It wasn't that she was unqualified for the job. She just may not have realized how much of a trailblazer she was in a sport and career that has been dominated by men for the past century.
"I was 110 percent overwhelmed with the media attention I got," Tiedemann said. "I came into it thinking that this is my job and I'm going to do it well while not realizing the magnitude of being the first in the league and one of only two female lead broadcasters in the Minor Leagues last year. It was really great to see the way people responded and then to welcome me back for my second season."
That's not to say she didn't take the job with at least a hint of trepidation. After all, mind-sets can be difficult to change in a sport so rooted in tradition. Plus, she was following in the footsteps of legendary Lexington broadcaster Keith Elkins, who announced his retirement after the 2017 campaign. To her surprise, however, Tiedemann was welcomed with open arms as well as open minds.
"The Legends' fans have been incredible," Tiedemann said. "When it was announced last year that I was going to be the new voice of the team, there was not one negative tweet or one negative phone call to the team. It was all extremely positive. I actually received some hand-written notes from fans congratulating me."
Tiedemann was far from a novice when she arrived in Lexington. Her first experience behind the microphone occurred at the age of 15 when she helped her grandfather, esteemed Texas sports broadcaster Bill Mercer, with play-by-play analysis of University of Texas at Dallas basketball games. After maintaining that role for the remainder of her time in high school, Tiedemann went to the University of Missouri and continued to call games for a variety of sports on student station KCOU.
Emma Tiedemann with her grandfather, Texas sports broadcaster Bill Mercer.
Her first extended chance in baseball came between her junior and senior years, when she was hired to broadcast games for the Mat-Su Minors in the summer collegiate Alaska Baseball League. It was during her time in the Last Frontier that Tiedemann knew she had found her calling.
"I had my first taste of the grind when I was up in Alaska and I called about 60 games in 70 days and I just fell in love with it," Tiedemann said. "I fell in love with working every night for 10 to 12 hours a day and then getting on a bus and traveling to another part of a state that you were never expecting to visit. Since then, I've added more games every year and 15-hour days don't scare me anymore, because every day is new and you don't know what challenges will come with it. It's exciting every day to go to the ballpark."
The following summer Tiedemann served as the broadcaster and communications manager for the Medford Rogues in the summer collegiate West Coast League. That led to her joining the St. Paul Saints in the independent American Association as the No. 2 broadcaster, alongside veteran Sean Aronson, in 2017 before traveling to Orlando for the Baseball Winter Meetings PBEO Job Fair in December. The Legends were impressed with her skills and hired Tiedemann shortly after interviewing her.
Her first year-and-a-half behind the microphone for the Legends has been eventful. Lexington won the 2018 SAL crown and captured the first-half Southern Division title by a half-game over Augusta and Charleston this year. Her most memorable moments include the ninth inning of last season's 2-1 victory over Lakewood in the fourth and deciding championship game as well as her initial broadcast in the booth at Whitaker Bank Ballpark on April 5, 2018.
Video: Melendez bashes solo shot for Lexington
"I'm nervous every night, but that first night I had butterflies. I was sweating. I was an absolute bundle of nerves," Tiedemann said. "But once we stood up for the national anthem, I was able to take it all in and remind myself that I was here for a reason and that I earned this position. I still get butterflies every night when I put on the headset, because I want to put on a good broadcast and a good product for our listeners."
2019 MiLB include
Tiedemann appreciates the wide variety of responsibilities that are involved with her job, which include media relations in addition to broadcasting all 70 of Lexington's home games. She hosts Facebook Live streams to engage fans and players and also offers encouragement and guidance to girls and young ladies who are hoping to build on the number of women in Minor League booths, which has grown to six in 2019.
As with most people working in the Minor Leagues, Tiedemann's ultimate desire is reaching the game's top level.
"The goal is still to be a Major League broadcaster," Tiedemann said. "And I work toward that goal every single day."
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