AL East

Weaving a Story: An Interview with Emma Tiedemann, the Voice of the Portland Sea Dogs

Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.

The more things change, the more things stay the same.

On Internet Archive, you can hear the earliest known recording of a baseball broadcast: September 20, 1934. Ty Tyson (1888-1968), the voice of the Detroit Tigers — and also the ballpark announcer — spun a tale of sports delight for WWJ Detroit (brought to you by White Star Station mobile-gasoline company!)

It was an inconsequential game in the big-picture; the soon-to-be AL champion Detroit Tigers and the New York Yankees were in the last game of a 4-game series, Babe Ruth was out with an injury, Lou Gehrig was hitting around .350 in a race for the batting title.

But when I listen to the recording now, eighty-seven years later, one thing sticks out to me through my nostalgic tears:

It sounds like baseball.

Yes, Tyson’s cadence is of a different era. And yes, hearing names like Gehrig and Goose Goslin during a broadcast elicits a strange, existential feeling. But even through all the pops and scratches of the recording, the sounds of baseball ring true.

The ball off the bat, the reactions of the Detroit crowd, the baseball terms and rules and clichés…they’re all there. Like nothing had ever changed. Most of a century has passed…but “the one constant through all the years” can be heard.

Here in Maine, we are blessed to host the Boston Red Sox’ AA Sea Dogs club, and with it, Emma Tiedemann, voice of the Sea Dogs and one of the first two female broadcasters in MiLB. Emma, in her first full year behind the mic at Hadlock Field for the Dogs, continues that tradition of baseball on the radio in a fashion brand new, and yet familiar. She was gracious enough to agree to an interview with Diamond Digest, and what follows is a brief insight into her world.

(TM is me, ET is Emma; answers edited for clarity and brevity.) 

TM: First obvious question: Who is Emma Tiedemann? How did you get into sports broadcasting, baseball, Portland?

ET: I started broadcasting when I was 15 years old. My grandfather was a long-time broadcaster with teams such as the Texas Rangers, Chicago White Sox and Dallas Cowboys, so I grew up listening to stories of his times in the booth. He happened to have an extra headset for a game he was doing with the University of Texas at Dallas and asked if I wanted to try it out. I said yes and the rest is history. I loved everything about broadcasting and have been pursuing it ever since. After a season in Alaska with the Mat-Su Miners, I knew that I wanted to be an MLB broadcaster one day, so I started to try to break into Minor League Baseball. That path led me to Medford, Oregon, then St. Paul, Minnesota to Lexington, Kentucky and now with the Portland Sea Dogs.

TM: How do you prepare for a game?

ET: There is a lot of preparation that goes into each game. I will research each player on both teams, compiling as many notes as possible on them. I also speak to our manager and players, asking questions about different things I notice. I also will look at their stats and try to find any streaks they are currently on.

TM: Do you have a favorite sports/baseball team? Why that one?

ET: I grew up a Texas Rangers fan, so that will always be my team. Though it’s hard not to be a fan of the big league club you’re affiliated with because you see some of your players make their Major League debuts and you want that team to do well, also.

TM: What’s your impression of the Sea Dogs and Hadlock so far?

ET: I absolutely love Hadlock Field and the Sea Dogs. Even though the first game had limited capacity, it was an incredible environment. When the capacity restrictions were lifted, it was amazing. The fans love the game of baseball and it truly shows; then you add in Slugger the Sea Dog (the best mascot in sports) and the phenomenal staff, you have truly one of the best game-day atmospheres in baseball.

TM: What is your favorite sports moment you’ve ever had the chance to call?

ET: Friday, September 13, 2019: I was the broadcast voice of the Lexington Legends (Single-A Kansas City Royals) and it was the South Atlantic League Championship Series between the Legends and the Hickory Crawdads (Single-A Texas Rangers). The Legends walked of it off with a two-run home run in the bottom of the 13th inning and won 3-1 on Friday the 13th. It was pretty epic.

TM: And finally, do you have any behind-the-scenes secrets of the broadcasting world you’d love to share?

ET: I think that the main component, aside from the actual broadcasting, is the research. It takes a lot of time and many, many hours staring at a computer screen, but in the end the research is what will help weave together the story that will unfold on the field. 

From Ty Tyson to Emma Tiedemann, the unassailable sound of baseball on the radio never changes, and yet, always is. One of only two female Minor League broadcasters as recently as 2018, Emma continues to blaze a trail for future voices and, ninety years from now, maybe our grandchildren can find recordings of her weaving together the stories of the Portland Sea Dogs.

You can hear Emma during all Portland Sea Dogs radio broadcasts on WPEI in New England, and worldwide on the MiLB First Pitch app.

Thaddeus Moriarty

Thaddeus Moriarty operates best in direct sunlight. Rotate occasionally for optimum results. He can be reached at @MoxMulder. Go Rays.

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