Alum becomes first female broadcaster in Diamondbacks history

Courtesy+of+Emma+Sharon%2C+MLB

Courtesy of Emma Sharon, MLB

By Jordan Pagkalinawan, Staff Writer

Looking over Dodger Stadium from the broadcasting booth on Sept. 20, Jill Gearin ‘18 made history as the first female broadcaster in Arizona Diamondbacks history.

Gearin stepped to the plate for the D’Backs to call three innings during the team’s first game in a doubleheader day, filling in for the team’s road broadcaster Chris Garagiola as he took breaks over what would have been an 18-inning day. 

“It just made sense for the doubleheader in LA to be the da, because Garagiola was going to have to do 18 innings,” Gearin said.  “LA is easy to get to because it’s where I’m from. So it just made sense to give me three of those innings.”

Her passion for sports broadcasting began in middle school during a conversation with her mother.

“[I was] complaining about how middle school boys were teasing me for liking sports,” Gearin said, “and she said, ‘You like to talk a lot, and you know sports. Why don’t you go into sports broadcasting?’ I was 12 years old, and I just took that idea and made it a career.”

Years later, she made the comment reality, making it not just a dream come true but becoming a defining moment in baseball history as part of an influx of female talent integrating into more broadcasting roles.

“My first thought is, ‘I shouldn’t be the first,’  It’s 2022—there should have been a few more before me,” she said. “But I’m really honored and honestly proud that I [got] to be the first woman, and I hope there’s a lot more coming up behind me.”

On the importance of having more women work in sports, Gearin thinks the public doesn’t know how beneficial a female perspective can be.

“In terms of women in all of baseball, you need to have a female perspective,” she said. “We’re going to think differently than a man [does], and it’s in a positive way. Being able to have people from different backgrounds is so important because if you have all the same people from the same backgrounds, you’re not going to get creative ideas.”

Gearin currently works as the director of broadcasting and media relations manager for the Visalia Rawhide, the Diamondbacks’ minor league affiliate.

During her time at Emerson, she was a first-baseman on the softball team and was involved with WEBN-TV and Emerson Channel Sports.

As a student-athlete, Gearin and the Lions made the NEWMAC playoffs for the first time in the program’s history in her senior year, which was one of her fondest memories. 

“That was just four years of hard work paying off where we changed the culture of the team and put softball first,” Gearin said. “Proving that sports can be a priority for you and you can go on to have a great career.”

She also mentioned hosting 7News Reporter and fellow Emerson alum Rob Way’s capstone as another highlight of her Emerson experience.

“That was an honor for me because I think so highly of Rob,” she said. “Having him believe in me for this massive capstone that is really important for us in Marsha [Della-Giustina]’s class, that was another good memory that I have.”

On the broadcast side, Gearin was an associate producer for ECS and a writer for WEBN. She said her first sideline report for ECS was “terrible,” but she received praise from baseball players’ parents after color-commentating a game during her sophomore year.

“That was the first time that I kind of was able to swallow my pride and say, ‘Okay, this is something I can do. I’m starting to prove it,’” she said.

Gearin said she would not be where she is today without Emerson, particularly with the alumni network and the connections it offers. A key internship for her was with the Boston Red Sox in 2018, organized exclusively for Emerson students by Tim Neverett ‘88, which sent her into the professional spotlight.  

Afterward, she called some games with the Nashua Silver Knights, a summer collegiate team from New Hampshire, before putting together a reel and applying to the Visalia Rawhide, which is the Diamondbacks’ minor league affiliate and her current employer.

Her first encounter with the Rawhide was with another Emerson alum—Julian Rifkind, ‘15—who was the Rawhide’s Director of Baseball Operations at the time.

“He was a senior on the baseball team when I was a freshman on the softball team,” she said.  After asking Riffkind for an opportunity, he pointed her to the general manager, “who also [happened] to be a woman.  She really wanted to give other women in this industry an opportunity.  It was definitely the ‘Emerson Mafia’ coming through and ‘right place, right time.’” Gearin added.

In November 2018, Gearin worked at a fall league broadcast. She asked the Vice President of broadcasting, Scott Geyer, to use a booth for a “mock-cast,” where reporters use an empty booth in MLB stadiums to practice their craft. Geyer obliged, but he also wanted her to get on the radio for the real deal.

In her current position, Gearin is able to interact with players and their families, broadcasting over many of the first professional innings of their careers.

Gearin was not the only Lion roaring in the broadcast booth that day as she was accompanied by Neverett and Steve Berthiaume ‘87.

“It’s just nice to always have that support system,” she said. “To come off air and be able to go talk to Tim, and before air, for Steve to come give me advice. It was just really nice to have that emotional support.”

To Gearin, being an Emersonian means being part of a community.

“I think at Emerson, there’s all these different little communities within,” she said. “[If] you find someone on the street who went to Emerson, you get really excited. My mom has an Emerson license plate holder, and someone pulled over, put their window down, and said, ‘Oh my gosh, I went to Emerson!’  There’s definitely this crazy community amongst us.”

Gearing encouraged anyone interested in sports journalism to follow their dreams. 

 “Like I said, my first sideline reporting job was terrible, and my first time doing play-by-play, I wasn’t that good at it,” she said.  “If you wait until you think you’re good enough, you’re never going to be good enough, and you’re going to miss an opportunity.  So take all of the opportunities you can and continue to try to improve.”