Twins Daily: Paving a Path, Women in Baseball: Marney Gellner

Marney Gellner has become a staple of Minnesota sports.
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This story first appeared at Twins Daily and was re-shared through a collaboration with Bring Me The News

When I started out on this venture back in late June, my goal was to highlight some of the best women sharing their talents around the world of baseball. That took us outside of Twins Territory, and even behind the scenes. Now to put a bow on it all, it seems only logical to go with a familiar face, Marney Gellner.

If you’ve watched Fox Sports North for even a fleeting moment, you know exactly who Marney is. Hailing from North Dakota, she’s tried and true in Twins Territory, and her talents have been endless no matter what the requirement. From “Better Call Mama” to on-field storytelling, Gellner is synonymous with some of the biggest moments on the diamond over the better portion of the last decade.

While Marney may have broken in as somewhat of a trailblazer, she doesn’t consider herself as such. Although she’s too humble to admit it, because of women like her and Michele Tafoya (who she mentioned looking up to), we have the opportunity to watch future generations get their shot. It’s because of these path pavers that more opportunity for women in baseball, and sports in general even exist.

So, without further ado, here’s the final conversation of the Women in Baseball series:

Twins Daily: You’ve been a staple across a handful of sports on Fox Sports North, what makes baseball special for you?

Marney Gellner: I love the vibe of baseball, sort of the chill. Being outside, summertime, and the whole atmosphere that goes along with it. I played softball growing up, as well as a couple of years in college. I like the nuances of the shift, hit and run, and the strategy of it. Mostly the vibe, though.

TD: Sideline reporting is often about storytelling, how have you also incorporated the ability to do play-by-play and dive so deeply into all facets of the game?

MG: I like to think of myself as a Jackie of all trades, master of none. I have definitely not mastered any of it, but I pride myself on being flexible and being able to handle many different roles. It’s a far different preparation depending on what my role for that night is. When I’m doing play-by-by I’m pretty much guiding the whole broadcast and constantly setting up the analyst. In sideline I’m always looking for my opportunity to jump in and sprinkle a little knowledge. Learning how to pick my spots, and what makes a good nugget, definitely took some time to get a feel for. The play-by-play is far more detailed and a constant. The sideline is having fifteen things available and using three per night.

TD: You’ve been working in sports from the beginning of your career. Was there ever a fear of acceptance being a woman in the industry and how did you seek to separate yourself?

MG: When I first started it was far rarer to have women working in sports. For some reason, that didn’t really phase me. I didn’t think of myself as anything unique, special, a trailblazer, or any of that, I just knew that I liked sports and that I fit in. I don’t think of myself any differently. I don’t see myself as a female broadcaster, I just see myself as a broadcaster. When I look back, it’s completely different now. The number of women who are in the business now has grown exponentially, and it’s much more common, particularly in the sideline role.

I still feel like if I make a mistake, and any mistake (a name, stat, etc), I always feel like people are going to think I don’t know what I’m talking about. That’s the only time I feel like gender enters my mind. If I make a mistake, I feel like people will look at me like, “she doesn’t haven a clue, she doesn’t know what she’s talking about.” That same principle doesn’t seem to apply to males. That’s my perception. If I do make a mistake, I tend to mull it over, let it eat at me a bit, and I get hung up on them a bit.

TD: As someone who’s become a mainstay in Minnesota sports, what level of pride is there to be blazing a path for other females looking to follow in your shoes?

MG: Honestly, I don’t have a great idea because I don’t put that thought into it. I think about Michele Tafoya when it comes to a trailblazer. I wrote her a fan letter when I was working at my first job in Bismarck telling her how much I admired her and how good she was. She wrote me back, handwritten, I still have it. To me, she is a trailblazer. She’s worked everything from the Olympics to Monday Night Football. She has reached the highest points, and she did it when almost nobody was doing it. I feel like I’m doing it amongst so many other women, so I don’t think of it as anything unusual or that it stands out. There have been so many that blazed trails, I’m just happy to walk along the trail and maybe pick up a twig here and there. I just don’t put myself in that category.

TD: What about your career has been most challenging as a female, and how has that changed over time?

MG: It goes back to making mistakes and needing to prove my knowledge. Proving that I belong, and that I know what I’m talking about. I definitely don’t know everything. I don’t know that I feel like it has changed, but I may put that on myself more than I should. That’s not something I ever want to stop doing either though. I don’t want to get to the point that I feel so comfortable that I get to the point where I’m not worried about making mistakes. I want to have some of that discomfort and insecurity, I just think I have a much more health balance now. I’m much more comfortable and confident. I remember back to when I started with FSN and feeling like I constantly needed to prove it, adding more information than anyone should be putting into a sideline hit because I wanted to make people believe that I belong and deserved the opportunity. I don’t feel like I need to go that far anymore.

TD: Specifically working with the Twins, what about the organization sets them apart when it comes to inclusion and diversity?

MG: The Twins have been a great organization. When I have to actually think about it (diversity), and don’t actually notice it, it’s probably a good thing. They haven’t created an environment where there’s a need to discuss that elephant in the room. It’s just a really open, warm, loving, inclusive environment. That’s all I’ve ever known with the Twins. From the point I began working with the Twins back in 2002, it’s all I’ve ever known. No one has ever made me feel like I was a female working in a male’s world and nothing I’ve ever observed whether gender, race, ethnicity, has been that way either. I’ve not heard a bad word about that organization, it’s first class all the way.

TD: We’re in the midst of an unprecedented season, and there’s sure to be more uncertainty ahead. What are you most excited about with this Twins team? What challenges around covering them through this are you looking forward to embracing?

MG: The challenge is that my role as a sideline reporter has changed dramatically this season. I would typically spend a lot of time doing interviews directly with players and building relationships through daily conversations. All of that rapport lends to better sideline report, and me being able to get better information. This year I’m not sure if I’ll physically, in the flesh, see anyone. Everything is done over Zoom, and maybe we’ll be able to progress to a distanced face-to-face interview, but we aren’t quite there yet. My sideline role is very different, and it’s morphed into something that will be challenging, but it’s doable. I’m more than willing to figure out how to get the best and most out of it.

What I’m most looking forward to is just watching this team on a nightly basis. I think our hitting is fantastic, and our lineup is incredibly flexible. Our starting pitching is solid, our bullpen is tremendous, and I think the putting of the pieces all together is going to be fascinating to watch night in and night out. I think that this team can be something special in what has already been an unforgettable baseball season. I can’t wait to watch it unfold.

Keep up with Marney and all of her endeavors here.

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