Yankees reporter Meredith Marakovits living her major-league dream

Amy Gutierrez
NBC Sports BayArea

Yankees reporter Meredith Marakovits living her major-league dream originally appeared on nbcsportsbayarea.com

Editor's note: "As Told To Amy G" will feature exclusive conversations with Giants staff and players, as well as interesting figures around Major League Baseball, throughout the 2019 season. Second in the series: Meredith Marakovits, Yankees clubhouse reporter for YES Network.

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We're living in an era of incredibly successful, powerful and trail-blazing women. Major League Baseball, along with other professional sports, has been a prime target for females to break in while also placing a few more cracks in the proverbial glass ceiling.

I'm fortunate to meet many different ladies who cover opposing teams that roll through Oracle Park. In fact, over the years, I've become good friends off the field with my NL West counterparts.

But establishing relationships with women who work in the American League has, for obvious reasons, been more difficult.

This offseason, I looked at the Giants' schedule, and when I saw they were hosting the Yankees in April, I immediately said out loud, "Ooh, I hope I get a chance to meet their reporter, Meredtih Marakovits. She's tall, like me!"

I joke, kind of. There's a "tall women" sisterhood. If you're tall, you get it.

In all seriousness, even though she's on the other side of the country, Meredith struck me as a professional, confident woman in the industry. She had great composure in arguably one of the toughest markets not just for women but for any journalist. Quite simply, I liked her vibe.

When I found out I had an opportunity to meet her prior to the season at MLB Winter Meetings in Vegas, I asked if we could sit down for an interview so I could have a chance to learn more about her. She agreed and, as suspected, she is awesome. And very tall.

Makes sense to start at the beginning, right? So, what made Meredith want to pursue sports broadcasting?

"I grew up in a very athletic family. I have two older brothers, so I was always the tomboy out there running around, playing soccer, playing football.

"I wanted to be like my older brothers. I think that's where I originally got that sports bug. I played basketball, volleyball, softball, swimming, gymnastics, and I actually received a D-1 scholarship for volleyball to go to college. My freshman year, I got injured, and it really made me think. I had an idea that I wanted to do this, but once I got injured, I'm like, ‘Well, this isn't going to last forever.' There's not a ton of money in women's volleyball - shocker. That forced me to start pursuing that a little bit earlier.

While I was at La Salle University in Philly, I started putting more time in with the television station. I just kept calling people and asking them if I could work for them, whether it'd be for free or [class] credit. My first break was out at FOX Sports in LA. They offered me an internship. I was 18 or 19 years old, drove cross country, found an apartment, lived out there for 3 1/2 months, and that's really where I got the itch."

I follow Meredith on Instagram, and came across a picture of her as a little girl, dressed up as none other than Joe Montana .. so obviously she gets it!

But how? A girl from Philly, who was too young to have lived through Joe's heyday, chose him as her Halloween costume? I had to get to the bottom of this Bay Area connection.

"I don't know how popular he was in Pennsylvania in the ‘80s, but my middle brother, Danny, was a huge Joe Montana fan at the time, and I loved Dan Marino. i was probably 5 years old - I think I really just liked the colors of the Dolphins' uniforms at the time, so it was like, 'All right, I like Marino,' but my parents were like, ‘We're not buying you a football uniform. That's absurd.'

"So, when my brother outgrew his, it went to me, and it was either be a football player who's Joe Montana, your arch nemesis, or no football uniform for Halloween at all. So, we opted for Joe Montana.

OK, so she doesn't LOVE Joe Montana like the rest of us do. Maybe Joe will be in attendance during the Giants-Yankees series, and they can chat about it. I think he could make a compelling argument to change her mind. At the end of the series, she'll be saying, "Marino who?" Might be a stretch. ...

Meredith was clear that she, like so many other visitors, has left a piece of her heart in San Francisco. And on this trip, she has experienced a first in the City by the Bay -- a visit to Oracle Park.

"I love San Francisco. At first, I wasn't too sure about it. I'll be honest - a little colder than I originally thought.

"I was covering the 76ers at the time. They were playing the Warriors, so we were there for an off-day. I went to Alcatraz, which was a really cool experience. We actually stay there when the Yankees are playing the A's. So, I've spent a lot of time in San Francisco.

"I love waking up early, getting a bike, going over the Golden Gate, down to Sausalito, then I'll take the little ferry over, grab food there. I'm not one that can sit in my hotel room - I need to be up moving. ...

"I will tell you: [Oracle] Park is the only ballpark off the top of my head that I have never been inside of. I'm super excited about that. I was outside of it, though, during the World Series, and I was in a kayak, and i ran into former Yankee [and] former Athletic Nick Swisher. We were both kind of paddling out there in McCovey Cove."

One thing I've always tried to pass on about this broadcasting career is it's very, VERY rare that people start on camera, covering a professional sports team. It often takes a lot of years leading up to that gig, and a lot of "doing a job that might lead to that job" type of work.

Meredith is no exception, cutting her teeth as a "jack of all trades" while always keeping her eye on the prize.

"I never wanted to do radio, and I'm sure people reach out to you and say, ‘How do I get to where you are?' Some advice I will give them is, think big picture. Don't think about the immediate. ...

"Service Electric 2 Sports [a local station in Lehigh Valley, Pa.] - they gave me my first start in TV. I called them after that internship with FOX Sports and said, ‘Hey, I can do this, this and this. Do you have anything?' At first, they said no, and I kept calling them, and they said, "All right, we're starting this show. Can you shoot?' So, I actually started as a photographer, and then eventually I was reporting and I had this radio opportunity.

"I remember I was doing a morning show in Philly, so I'd literally wake up at 4:30 in the morning, do the morning show, take a nap and then go cover baseball games at night. I feel like I have a full year of my life where I don't remember it. You weren't out doing the things that maybe some people were doing, and people might have looked at you like you were crazy then, but you had an end goal in mind."

In 2012, Meredith made the move to the Big Apple and the baseball silver screen when YES Network hired her to cover the Yankees. The offer came late in the offseason, and she handled double duty, finishing her 76ers contract while beginning her new endeavor of covering the Bronx Bombers.

It's no fun being the new girl -- I speak from experience. But much like Rich Aurilia welcomed me to the Giants in 2008, a pretty popular Yankee did the same for Meredith.

"I did have the added benefit of being around the team a little bit, so I wasn't a completely foreign face. And I had worked in the New York market doing some shows for SNY, so I had a little bit of a handle of what was going on. ...

"The first person that came up to me when I was there for that one hour of spring training to get myself ready for the season was Derek Jeter. He said, ‘Hi, I'm Derek. I just want to introduce myself and say if you need anything, let me know."

Not only was Meredith covering arguably THE most watched baseball team in the country, she was coming in on Kim Jones' heels. Jones had held the clubhouse reporter position since 2005 and endeared herself to the fan base. Not exactly the easiest audience to sway.

I asked Meredith how she was able to stay true to who she is, not emulate anyone else's style and stave off intimidating players.

"Some guys are more difficult than others, and you get to know some more than others, but overall, there is a level of professionalism when it comes to the Yankees. Guys were pretty willing to do stuff with me, which I was appreciative of. ...

"You go in there and have confidence in yourself, and hope you do the right thing. And over the course of 162 games, you're going to make mistakes, but you try your best to be as accurate and correct as possible, especially being a female in this industry. You have to be OK with the fact that every now and again, you might say something that comes out not the way you were thinking it - you didn't phrase it the right way or you would have done it differently - but overall, you just have to have it in the back of your mind.

"Just like a guy that goes 0 for 4, you gotta shake it off. Tomorrow is a new day. And if you really dwell on the stuff, you're going to drive yourself crazy."

Even when you love what you do, there are parts of a job that no one enjoys. I mean, it would be just dandy if these fellas could win 162 games and the clubhouse was in a constant state of euphoria, but that's just not going to happen. So, I wanted to know what Meredith felt were the biggest challenges and rewards of the job.

"I would say probably maybe after losses. You are friendly with people, and you don't want to be overly negative, but facts are facts, and you have to ask the questions. So, there could be guys that you know you want to do well, but at the same time, I have to do my job, just like you have to do your job.

"Most rewarding, I would have to say people that come up to me and say, ‘Hey, I enjoy, I watch every night, my wife loves you, my daughter loves you." To hear people say that they enjoy my work is satisfying."

Last, but not least, I asked fans what they wanted to know from/about Meredith. A great range of inquiries came in, from the Yankees' secret pitching sauce to, is Michael Kay's head really that big?

But the Toyota Fan Question below was my favorite, and it certainly resonates with all of us females who trying to make it in a male-dominated industry.

"Well, thank you! I would encourage anyone getting in the business to be as versatile as possible. Learn how to shoot, edit, produce, etc. Even if you don't have to do it on a daily basis in the future, it gives you an appreciation and understanding for other roles.

"Also, do your research and work hard. There is no substitute for hard work and hustle. It may not seem at times like it's worth it. But people notice."

Follow Amy G on Twitter @AmyGGiants, on Instagram @amyg, on Facebook, and, of course, watch her on NBC Sports Bay Area's Giants coverage all season.

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