September 7, 1946
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Suzyn Waldman (born September 7, 1946) is a sportscaster and former musical theater actress. Since 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.
Early life and career
Waldman was born in Newton, Massachusetts, and she graduated from Simmons College with a degree in Economics. Prior to her broadcasting career, Waldman worked for many years as an actress and singer in musical theatre. Her most notable role was as Dulcinea in Man of La Mancha. Her rendition of "There Used To Be a Ballpark" appeared on historian David Pietrusza's 1995 WMHT-TV documentary Local Heroes: Baseball on Capital Region Diamonds. Also, she has performed the National Anthem at many Yankee home games as well as the 1986 ALCS Championship game 7 at Fenway Park.
Waldman is considered a pioneer 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, after Betty Caywood in 1964 and Mary Shane 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, after Gayle Gardner in 1993.
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.
Following the 2013 season, the Yankees moved their radio rights to WFAN, and announced that Waldman and John Sterling would return for their tenth year together in the booth. She signed a two-year contract extension in February 2016 that ran through the 2017 season.
On December 16, 2017, Waldman signed a contract through the 2018 season. She is currently under contract through at least the 2019 season.
George Bell/Jesse Barfield incident
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.
Yogi Berra/George Steinbrenner feud
In 1985, Yankees owner George Steinbrenner sent his general manager, Clyde King, to fire manager Yogi Berra, which greatly angered Berra because in his previous firings, the team owner had personally delivered the news. 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 helped arrange a meeting between the two men that brought an end to the 14-year feud. Yogi returned on Opening Day of the 1999 season, a day also designated as "Joe DiMaggio Day."
In 1996, Waldman 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. Her cancer has been in remission for several years.
- Curt Schleier (April 1, 2005). "A Voice For The Ages". The Jewish Week. Archived from the original on May 17, 2011. Retrieved June 29, 2007.
- Joanne Korth (April 17, 2005). "Broadcaster in a league of her own in Yankees radio booth". St. Petersburg Times. Retrieved June 29, 2007.
- "Waldman, sports radio pioneer, and Sterling, voice of the Yankees: Partners in the radio booth". WNYW Fox 5. October 2, 2018. Retrieved December 5, 2018.
- Best, Neil (February 24, 2014). "Suzyn Waldman returns to WFAN as Yankees broadcaster". Newsday. Retrieved December 5, 2018.
- McCarron, Anthony (August 10, 2014). "'94 The Season That Wasn't". New York Daily News. p. 71. Retrieved May 15, 2015.
- "John Sterling, Suzyn Waldman to call Yankees games on WFAN". Newsday. February 14, 2014.
- Curt Schleier, "A Voice for the Ages" Archived November 20, 2005, at the Wayback Machine, from Jewish Week, April 1, 2005
- Suzyn Waldman, Reunion Weekend Archived July 8, 2007, at the Wayback Machine at WFAN.com, July 1, 2007
- Harvey Araton (January 6, 1999). "Sports of The Times; Yogi and the Boss Complete Makeup Game". NY Times. Retrieved May 12, 2016.
- Chuck Slater (February 13, 2000). "Baseball Announcer Who Broke Barriers". NY Times. Retrieved May 12, 2016.
- "SPORTS PEOPLE: BASEBALL;Waldman Sues Hospital". New York Times. Associated Press. May 22, 1996. Retrieved June 29, 2007.
- "Waldman Sues Hospital". New York Times. Associated Press. May 22, 1996.
- Tarr, Peter (July 2000). "Never Give Up! The Courageous Story of Suzyn Waldman". InTouch. Retrieved June 30, 2007.
- "Suzyn Waldman Speaker & Booking Information". AthleteSpeakers.com. Retrieved December 5, 2018.