Jessica Mendoza first joined ESPN as a color analyst during the Women’s College World Series. It was, after all, a location she was used to. Mendoza had played at the College World Series herself, competing as one of the best players to put on a Stanford.
Now, Mendoza is making history.
She’s set to take over as an analyst for ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball, replacing the suspended Curt Schilling. Mendoza got her first start in the booth on August 30, 2015, serving as the color commentator during Jake Arrieta’s no-hitter against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Here’s what you need to know about Mendoza, her career and her family:
1. ESPN Announced That Mendoza Would Be an Analyst for Sunday Night Baseball for the Rest of the 2015 Season
Mendoza made history on August 24 when she became the first woman to work as an analyst for a baseball game on ESPN when the St. Louis Cardinals took on the Arizona Diamondbacks. And she isn’t going anywhere.
ESPN announced on September 3 that Mendoza would replace Curt Schilling in the booth for the remainder of the season. Schilling had previously been suspended by the network after he posted a tweet on August 25 equating Muslim extremists with Nazis in Germany. The World Series champion had also been removed from the Little League World Series broadcast. ESPN released a statement on the move:
We are a sports media company. Curt’s actions have not been consistent with his contractual obligations, nor have they been professionally handled; they have obviously not reflected well on the company. As a result, he will not appear on ESPN through the remainder of the regular season and our Wild Card playoff game.
Mendoza has been working for Baseball Tonight since the middle of the 2014 season.
2. Mendoza Played Softball at Stanford & Holds Several School Records
After a standout career at Adolfo Camarillo High School in California, Mendoza went on to play softball at Stanford. She got off to a quick start, named a 1999 First Team All-American and All-Pac-10 honoree. That season she also broke Cardinal records for season batting average and RBIs while ranking top-10 all-time for hits.
Mendoza’s success at Stanford did not slow down after her freshman season. She broke her own batting record as a sophomore and from February 19 to March 22 went on a school-record 20 game hit streak. She batted .561 with a slugging percentage of .842 over the streak.
As a junior, Mendoza led Stanford to its first-ever Women’s College World Series appearance and, as a senior, became the fifth player to record four straight season as an All-Pac-10 honoree. By the time her Cadinal career was over, Mendoza held records in average, hits, home runs, slugging, runs and stolen bases. She was named the Stanford Athlete of the Year three times.
3. She Has Played for Team USA & the National Pro Fastpitch League
Mendoza was a starting outfielder for Team USA in both the 2004 and 2008 Olympic Games, winning gold and silver medals with the team. The California native also played with Team USA in the 2003 and 2005 Pan American Games and won the silver medal at both the World Cup and Japan Cup. She was named “Female Athlete of the Year” for Team USA in 2006.
Mendoza described how playing at the national level helped boost her athletic confidence, telling ESPNW:
And at that point, I just started to embrace more of the pressure instead of freaking out and doubting myself. Softball has taken me further than I could have ever imagined. To me, it is so special when you can connect with someone and feel like you’re influencing their life, even if it’s for a small little bit. Influencing them in a way, as a female to a female, that you can be successful.
Although she was focused on Team USA, Mendoza also split her time with the National Pro Fastpitch in 2005 and hit a league best .491 during her rookie season with the Arzona Heat. In 2011, Mendoza declined an invitation to play for the US to focus on the NPF.
4. Mendoza Is Married to Adam Burks
Mendoza and Adam Burks, a 1987 University High School graduate and former athlete in his own right, first met a wedding in Southern California in 2004. He was previously in the U.S. Marines at the time and served in Desert Storm before returning home to finish his education at Eastern Washington University.
Burks is now an engineer and has worked for the city of Moorpark in Ventura County, California.
The couple are also parents to two sons, Caleb Ashton and Cayden Adam. The family regularly travels with Mendoza while she is on-site reporting for ESPN.
5. She Is the President of the Women’s Sports Foundation
Mendoza is incredibly active in a handful of organizations and currently serves as the President of the Women’s Sports Foundation. The Foundation was founded in 1974 by tennis legend Billie Jean King and focuses on advancing the lives of girls and women through sports and exercise. Mendoza was voted the Women’s Sports Foundation Sportswoman of the Year in the team category in 2008.
In addition to her work with the WSF, Mendoza is also an athletic ambassador for Team Darfur and a board member of the National Education Association Foundation.
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