Photo Credit: ESPN PR
Both of Jessica Mendoza’s sons were born in August, and she laughs now when recalling how she hoped she wouldn’t go into labor during the Little League Baseball® World Series.
“We always watched every minute of the World Series every summer,” said Ms. Mendoza, one of the most accomplished collegiate softball players to play the game. “I didn’t want to miss a single pitch.”
Currently a Major League Baseball (MLB) analyst on ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball, Ms. Mendoza had always hoped to one-day experience firsthand what she had watched on television for so many years.
“Coming to the World Series has been on my bucket list for a long time,” said Ms. Mendoza.
She can check that off the list because this year, she is joining the ESPN broadcast team of Karl Ravech and John Kruk for the first two days of the 2016 Little League Baseball World Series.
“I can’t believe I’m actually going to be in Williamsport!” said Mendoza. “I’m looking forward to experiencing everything, but especially hanging out with the players. There is a pureness to Little League with kids playing the sport for no other reason than they love it. I know being around them will take me back to the fun times I had when I played as a kid.”
While Ms. Mendoza will certainly relive some great memories when onsite for the Little League Baseball World Series, she doesn’t need Williamsport to remind her of the importance of Little League. Her son, Caleb, 7, plays in the Moorpark Little League in California.
“Caleb just finished up a Coach Pitch season, and he really enjoyed it,” said Ms. Mendoza. “This year, he was able to learn more about the game itself, which was great. Moorpark is such a great league. There’s a lot of community support, and it’s a fun social gathering for parents. I travel a lot, but I try to make it to as many practices and games as possible. When I’m not able to be there for a game, I’m always getting texts from other parents on how things are going and how Caleb is doing.”
On Mother’s Day, Ms. Mendoza was in New York, broadcasting the Yankees and Red Sox contest, unable to attend Caleb’s Little League game. ESPN arranged a special message from Caleb and his three-year-old brother, Caden. Everyone tuning in saw the Mendoza boys wish their mom a “Happy Mother’s Day!”
“It had me in tears,” said Ms. Mendoza. “When they recorded it, Caleb was on his way to his Little League game, so he was in his uniform. It was so special.”
Ms. Mendoza was a four-time All American at Stanford from 1999 to 2002, and was a member of the United States Women's National Softball team from 2004 to 2010. Ms. Mendoza was a two-time Olympian, winning a gold medal in 2004 and silver medal in 2008. She has worked at ESPN since 2007, and was the first female MLB Analyst on the network’s Monday Night Baseball. Ms. Mendoza has also broadcasted games during the MLB postseason and College World Series – each being female firsts.
“I think it is so cool to be this close to baseball, and I’m still giddy that I have this job,” said Ms. Mendoza. “We have so many tools from an entertainment perspective to tell so many interesting stories.”