Betty Bushman, an Early Female Baseball Voice, Dies at 89


Betty Bushman had been a mannequin and a tv climate forecaster when Charles O. Finley, the cantankerous proprietor of the Kansas City Athletics, requested her to hitch his moribund workforce’s radio crew within the waning days of the 1964 season.

“I know as much about baseball as the average woman does,” she mentioned on the time.

Ms. Bushman (who was recognized on the time as Betty Caywood) was a pioneer — the primary lady to name a major-league baseball workforce’s video games. But her hiring was a promotional ploy by Mr. Finley, then baseball’s foremost perpetrator of gimmicks. He wanted her to attraction to “the dolls,” as he put it — to show extra ladies into A’s followers.

As she tried to carry a female perspective to baseball, she endured sexism, together with the refusal of baseball writers to let her eat within the eating room at Fenway Park. She was additionally the topic of headlines like “A Breakthrough! Finley Signs a Girl” and the main focus of frequent references to her blond hair and blue eyes.

The job didn’t final lengthy. She labored on solely 15 video games earlier than her contract expired, and Mr. Finley declined to resume it. Nonetheless, she loved working together with her companions, Monte Moore and George Bryson; briefly made extra money than she had up to now; and was proud to have damaged into an solely male sportscasting bastion.

Ms. Bushman died on Sept. three in her condominium in Kansas City, Mo. She was 89. Her son Craig mentioned the trigger was a stroke.

While ladies sportscasters turned extra commonplace within the many years after Ms. Bushman’s temporary stint with the A’s, they’re nonetheless rarities within the baseball sales space. In 1977, Mary Shane, a sportswriter, was a part of the workforce calling Chicago White Sox video games on radio and TV, however she labored just one season.

Suzyn Waldman has had a much more profitable expertise as a coloration commentator for Yankee video games, first on native tv and, since 2005, on radio. Jessica Mendoza, an Olympic softball gold medalist, was an analyst on ESPN’s Sunday Night baseball video games from 2016 to 2019.

Betty Jean Congour was born on March 10, 1931, in Chicago. Her father, Vernon, was a ward boss for Mayor Edward J. Kelly. Her mom, Irene (Wolf) Congour, was an workplace employee. They divorced within the 1940s, and he or she moved with Betty and her brother, Stanley, to Kansas City, Mo.

She married Frank Caywood, a event supervisor for the Professional Golfers Association, in 1950, and the couple moved to Salina, Kan., two years later. She earned a bachelor’s diploma in schooling at Marymount College, in Salina, and a grasp’s in speech remedy at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill. After she and Mr. Caywood divorced in 1957, she moved again to Kansas City, the place she started modeling for high-end shops and internet hosting a TV program that showcased homes on the market.

She moved to Chicago in 1960 and was employed to ship climate experiences on WBKB-TV. She met Mr. Finley, an insurance coverage magnate based mostly in Chicago, when he appeared on the station. When she left in 1964, Mr. Finley recommended she be a part of the A’s radio workforce.

“I think we accomplished what we set out to do, but I know we’d have done much better with more time,” she informed The St. Joseph News-Press in December 1964, after her time with the A’s had ended.

Soon after shedding that job, she met and married Jordan Bushman, a building government. He died in March.

In addition to her son Craig, Ms. Bushman is survived by two different sons, Stephen and Jeffrey Bushman. Her daughter, Michelle Bushman, died in 2003.

Ms. Bushman, who later ran a travel company and received concerned in charity work, lately recalled Mr. Finley’s boozy middle-of-the-night calls to her.

“When he first hired me, he told me that he wanted me to wear Kelly green and that awful yellow,” she informed the podcast “The A’s (A’s on the Air)” in 2018, referring to the gaudy coloration scheme he had launched for the workforce’s uniform. “And I said, ‘Your male broadcasters wear that?’ And he said, ‘Well, of course not,’ and I said, ‘Neither does your female one.’”