Mary Shane (May 17, 1945 – November 3, 1987) was a pioneer in American sportscasting by becoming the first full-time female play by play broadcaster for a Major League Baseball team in 1977.
She was born Mary Driscoll in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the daughter of a former semi-pro baseball player. In 1967, she graduated from the University of Wisconsin at Madison with a B.A. in History. After college she became a history teacher at a Milwaukee high school for six years. In 1975, she decided for a career change and became a radio sportscaster at WRIT (now WJYI) in Milwaukee, where she covered the Brewers, the Bucks and the Marquette Warriors.
In 1976, while working in the County Stadium press box for a White Sox - Brewers game, White Sox announcer Harry Caray was surprised to see a young woman in the press box and invited her to do some play-by-play. Shane did well enough that he asked her to join the broadcast the next day and again on a subsequent White Sox visit to County Stadium.
In, 1977, WMAQ radio and WSNS - TV, the flagship stations for the Chicago White Sox, hired her to join the broadcast team which already included Caray, Lorn Brown and Jimmy Piersall. Many in the Chicago and National Media believed that Shane's hiring was another publicity stunt by White Sox owner Bill Veeck. However, by mid-season it was apparent that her lack of experience for the role she was thrust in was quickly becoming a failed experiment. Her lack of knowledge of baseball situations and rules were noticeable to the media as well as the listeners. Shane's broadcasts centered on the families of the White Sox players instead of the events of the game and the hardcore statistics that baseball fans in Chicago demand. Shane was pulled from the White Sox Broadcasts before the 1977 Season concluded and her contract was not renewed.
Shane later worked in Worcester, Massachusetts, where she became a sportswriter for the Worcester Telegram in 1981, covering the Boston Celtics as one of the few female NBA beat reporters. In her thirties, she became plagued by heart troubles and on November 1, 1987 at age 42 she died of a heart attack at her home in Worcester.
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