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"Changed the Game" is a Yahoo Sports series dedicated to the women who are often overlooked, under-appreciated or simply deserve more flowers for their contributions to women's sports history.
If you're a die-hard San Francisco Giants fan, then you're all too familiar with that energetic, raspy voice heard over the loudspeaker during the 81 regular-season home games. It belongs to Renel Brooks-Moon, the team's veteran public address announcer. She joins three other women currently serving as public address announcers in MLB (Marysol Castro for the New York Mets and Amelia Schimmel who was just hired by the Oakland A’s) and is just the second Black woman to hold this position, she's admired across the Bay Area and her talents even caught the attention of former President Barack Obama.
Brooks-Moon's impressive 22-year tenure shouldn't come as a surprise. Her parents grew up following the Negro Leagues. Routine visits to Candlestick Park and the Oakland Coliseum as a child for a crash course in baseball's rules and history constituted as field trips for Brooks-Moon and her two siblings. Family has always been at the center of the now 62-year-old's profession, and she credits her father's magnificent, yet comforting tone as inspiration behind her similar demeanor.
“He gave great speeches. His voice was extremely majestic," she told The Athletic in 2019. "Compassionate yet powerful. Strong. Human. Very relatable. He had a booming, booming voice. I was just in awe of him. And not only for what he did as an educator, but what he did as a community leader as well. That’s something else I try to honor from his legacy.”
Brooks-Moon has done an incredible job carrying on her late father's legacy, using her prestige to lead initiatives benefiting San Francisco's community. She is a founding member of Friends of Faith, a nonprofit committed to providing relief to uninsured breast cancer patients in the Bay Area. Other stints in leadership roles include serving on the board of the San Francisco Giants Community Fund and on the Advisory Board of the Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir.
From radio to the World Series stage
Brooks-Moon got her start in radio and television broadcasting in the Bay Area, earning an entry-level gig with news radio station KCBS. Her smoothness on the mic opened up many more opportunities and Brooks-Moon eventually became a disc jockey at KFRC, KMEL and KISS.
She was only two years into her tenure as the voice of the Giants when they reached the World Series against the Anaheim Angels in 2002. Ahead of Game 3, she was honored by the Baseball Hall of Fame for becoming the first woman announcer for a title game in any major professional sport. Twelve years after her first championship call-up, Brooks-Moon was in the booth for a fourth World Series.
"Never. Never. Never. It never gets old," she said to espnW in 2014. "I'm almost embarrassed to say this is my fourth World Series. It sounds like I'm bragging, but there are PA announcers who have been doing this since long before I came along and have not even been to one and I'm in my fourth now, so that is not lost on me. I am blessed and extremely fortunate.
"It's crazy. This little girl who didn't even know this would be possible for her one day is in her fourth World Series as PA announcer for her childhood baseball team. It's another I've-got-to-pinch-myself kind of moment."
Brooks-Moon's unwavering humility is perhaps what makes her one of the most likable personalities in sports. The self-proclaimed Beyoncé worshipper has every reason to be brash, yet that's a personality trait individuals won't ever witness from her. Don't even expect her to sully the names of opposing players, either. It's not her character. She may not say it with such passion compared to the hometown team, but she will accurately pronounce each player's name with reverence.
From someone who grew up watching the likes of Willie Mays and Willie McCovey to maintaining a longstanding friendship with the former and presiding over the latter's remembrance ceremonies in November 2018, Brooks-Moon cemented herself as baseball royalty. Despite earning the respect of legends, the endorsement of the 44th president and the adoration of millions of Giants fans nationwide, there are more rewarding aspects of her career, like opening up possibilities for aspiring female announcers to follow her lead.
"I have so many little girls that come tell me they want to do what I do one day, and I always tell them, 'Well, I've got to retire sometime. Start practicing. Get ready,'" she said to espnW.
"Don't get me wrong. I love all the great perks that come with this gig, but what is most important to me is that what I'm doing matters for generations to come, especially for young women. That's absolutely the most rewarding part of this job."