Breaking Into the Big Leagues
Making it to the Big Leagues
a sports reporter's journey in baseball
When Major League Baseball reporter Jessica Kleinschmidt was a little girl, her dad and her brother used to go to the Valley Providence Little League snack bar and watch baseball. But it was when she was 12 years-old where she really got hooked on the game. While attending an Oakland A's game, she saw Erick Chavez hit a homer and quickly learned she shared the same birthday as him. From then on, baseball took on a new meaning in her life.
Fast forward to seventeen years later, and Jessica is now reporting for Cut4 at the MLB, while constantly reminding people that she is not Topanga from Boys Meet World.
We sat down with Jessica and asked her about her journey in the world of sports reporting, and what it means to be a Major League Girl.
DID YOU ALWAYS DREAM OF BECOMING A SPORTS REPORTER?
I always wanted to do it. That was mainly because I was raised around sports. I loved talking (SHOCKER!)l, and I always had a passion for writing as well. So what do you when you want to combine all those things? There’s very few ways to combine all those things, so I went into sports reporting.
But if that didn’t work out, I’m obsessed with fashion, and really love design as well, so I wanted to become an interior designer or something in fashion, or fashion designer, or maybe I would have become an instagram girl. Who knows?
HOW DID YOU FALL IN LOVE WITH BASEBALL?
I actually played baseball before I ever really watched it and I played little league and Babe Ruth up until my sophomore year of high school, but then I had to switch to softball just because of the college opportunities. That was before people were more open to having women on any type of baseball team. Plus the coach straight up told me, “You’re not going to make it, so why try?” So that kind of sucked.
As much as the transition was difficult physically because I didn’t know how to hit the softball for the life of me, it was ultimately great because I met some amazing women and they’re still friends to this day.
I played for tournament teams in college, and I had a killer arm (and still do!) and I fell in love with it because it was a family affair. My dad and I really bonded over it, my brother was a fabulous catcher in northern Nevada. We were just obsessed with it and had our Sunday Family dinners at the snack bar at the Providence Valley little league.
HOW DID YOU BREAK INTO SPORTS REPORTING?
Baseball just came naturally for me and I had a little blog and I wrote about the A’s every now and then. Vincent Frank, a sports editor, found me and said, “We would love to have you report on baseball for us." But it was before baseball season, and he asked me, "Do you play Fantasy Football?" At that point I had played once and beat my brother and dad on an auto draft lineup roster. So my first post was about the top ten quarterbacks and running backs and I was excited because right off the bat (no pun intended) because I showed my ability to write about other sports.
MOST MEMORABLE GAME
I’ve covered a lot of MLB events - I haven’t yet done a gamer piece, but my most memorable baseball event was the College World Series. I met Joe Carter, (a baseball legend) and I got to cover from the journalistic perspective and was also there for fun — and as the kids say, #Blessed, I was there during the game where the University of Florida won it all. So watching it growing up and physically seeing it was cool because I’ve always wanted to go to the College World Series in Omaha, and I got to do it.
MOST FUN PART OF JOB
People at Cut 4 are absolutely phenomenal. We’re just like a family and it's amazing being able to call my heroes colleagues. There’s a lot of people I used to look up to and now I’m working with them, which blows my mind.
MOST CHALLENGING ASPECT OF JOB
Oooooh! Have you ever heard of the Twitter mentions?! Good Lord - have mercy child!
I get it - I have a bit of an attitude, also known as a Sassi-tude - That’s okay. What you see is what you get. Sometimes I put stuff out there where I’m expecting to hear, “Your opinion is wrong!” But the stuff I don’t like is that my life has been threatened, along with my families, I’ve had stalkers, and I’ve had people posing as others.
I don’t like the bullying, but also don’t like when people who don’t work in the Industry tell me to grow thick skin. They just don’t understand it.
When I waS 12, I went to my first Oakland A’s game, and right when I sat down, Erick Chavez hit a bomb. And I looked at the program because I really wasn’t familiar with who he was, and realized we share a birthday — I was like, "WHAT?!" I fell in love with the Oakland A’s ever since.
HOW DO YOU SEE THE FUTURE OF WOMEN IN BASEBALL EVOLVING
It’s going to continue to be great. Unfortunately, there’s still a stigma. We have the Jessica Mendoza’s of the world, and the Julie DiCaro’s, but in baseball it’s not a very progressive sport. But I think the demographic of the fan base is changing slowly. I’m hoping it will change, as I begin to see more women take prominent roles in the front office, and we have women playing in professional baseball. That’s so cool and I think it’s going to continue to grow. And I really hope that one day a woman can into the press box or locker room and not feel uncomfortable.
PIECE OF ADVICE TO GIRLS WHO WANT TO GET INTO SPORTS REPORTING
DO IT! Go on with your bad self. My advice would be to stick to who you are. And it might sound silly, but we live in a society constantly trying to tell people to be someone who they’re not. I want to be the person where you hear me on radio or see me on TV, and when you meet me you don’t think, “She’s two different people.” Stay true to who you are. You don’t have to be next Katie Nolan or next Sarah Spain, just be the first you!
WHAT MAKES A MAJOR LEAGUE GIRL
Staying to true yourself, don’t take yourself too seriously. Don’t take yourself not too seriously. Make your own rules, and if you want to break your own rules, that’s okay too. Have fun with it. You only live once.