A generation ago, the “Mendoza Line” was a humorous metric that determined if a major league player had a batting average lower than Mario Mendoza did. An affable second baseman during the Seattle Mariners nascent years, his average tended to dip below the .200 mark throughout his career, resulting in one of baseball’s most nostalgic statistical yarns.
Fast forward to 2019, and a new “Mendoza Line” exists, setting the bar for other women in baseball to aspire to. Having enjoyed a three-season run as an analyst for ESPN’s “Sunday Night Baseball” broadcasts, Mendoza, an accomplished athlete herself, having starred with Stanford University’s softball team, later capturing a gold medal with the US at the 2004 Athens Summer Games, takes on a front office role.
Hired by the New York Mets to serve in the capacity of Operations Advisor, Mendoza has attained to a status as one of the most influential women in the game. Reporting to Brodie Van Wagenen, the Mets’ Executive Vice President & General Manager, who praised her baseball IQ as extremely high, she will juggle numerous tasks, including views on player evaluation, roster construction, and technological advancement, among others.
Such a hire builds on the momentum of women in baseball during this defining decade. From Mo’Ne Davis pitching in the Little League World Series, (later gaining a baseball card with The Topps Company), to Jean Afterman serving as Assistant General Manager with the New York Yankees.
Haley Alvarez and Justine Siegal both hold unique ties to the Oakland Athletics. Alvarez serves as Oakland’s scouting director, hoping to one day become MLB’s first female General Manager. Siegal served as their guest instructor for an Instructional League Club in 2015, building on the achievement of becoming the first woman to throw batting practice in 2011, throwing at the Indians’ spring training.
In addition, Amanda Hopkins who was hired by the Seattle Mariners as a scout, the first full-time female scout since Edith Houghton, who was first hired by the Philadelphia Phillies in the 1946, Mendoza is part of this great sorority.
Being part of this significant time in the game’s history is nothing new for the highly accomplished Mendoza. Debuting in her analyst role for Sunday Night Baseball back in 2015, it made her the first woman to be in the broadcast booth for nationally televised MLB games since Gayle Gardner was part of NBC’s broadcast crew for baseball back in 1989.
Allowed to retain her position on the Sunday Night Broadcast Team, where she will also become lead analyst for the network’s coverage of the Women’s College World Series, Mendoza will take the next step in her athletic endeavors, serving as baseball operations adviser for the New York Mets. Coincidentally, the Mets also welcomed former pitcher Al Leiter, a member of their Subway Series roster in 2000, into the front office fold, while allowing him to keep his employment with the MLB Network.