Gellner becomes first woman to call regular-season play-by-play for Twins (2024)

July 9th, 2024

Gellner becomes first woman to call regular-season play-by-play for Twins (1)

Do-Hyoung Park

@dohyoungpark

CHICAGO -- Marney Gellner doesn’t think she’ll break out her old “Better call Mama!” home run call from her Spring Training broadcasts -- but she at least acknowledged an urge to do so, and she pointed out that she did, in fact, call her own mama in Fargo, North Dakota, after she first heard of her role for this series in Chicago about a month ago.

“It’s not about me, but yet, how do I do three games -- which might be the only three of my entire life -- and not give a home run call?” Gellner said with a laugh.

Gellner was reluctant to even acknowledge that there would be a spotlight on her Monday as the first woman to call play-by-play for a regular-season Twins game in club history, mostly because she’d already been around the organization for such a long time, and her first instinct before Monday’s game was to point out that it didn’t necessarily feel like a big deal because of that.

But then, she paused, and digested the moment a bit longer before she began her three-game stint filling in for play-by-play man Cory Provus on Bally Sports North.

“I’m super proud of it,” Gellner said. “And I’m just ready to just go ahead and get on with the game. … Both things can be true. I appreciate this. I think it’s a wonderful opportunity. I’m super, super grateful. Thrilled. I don’t know all the adjectives I can use.”

It’s fitting that this distinction would go to Gellner, who is as established, respected and universally beloved as any figure in Minnesota media and has been a near-constant presence since she entered the market in 2000 with what is now Bally Sports North.

She has been the play-by-play voice of the WNBA’s Minnesota Lynx for 14 seasons in addition to longtime studio and sideline roles with the Twins and the other local franchises. She’s no stranger to milestone broadcasts. In 2018, Gellner called a Minnesota Timberwolves game to become the second woman to serve as lead TV play-by-play broadcaster of an NBA game.

Gellner called a few Spring Training games for the Twins in March 2019, but she acknowledged that was a very different vibe -- much more loose, with one of her games even ending in a tie -- and that the storytelling pace and cadence of MLB is very different from that of the WNBA (she took a break from her very busy Lynx schedule to step in with the Twins this week.)

“It’s nothing that I had been sort of laying in the weeds, praying for my chance,” Gellner said. “But I was also super excited when [Twins senior director of broadcasting] Andrew Halverson called me and asked me if I wanted to do it. It came out of the blue. I had no idea it was even in the works.”

But now, Gellner will join a growing surge of representation among women in a play-by-play role, alongside the likes of Jenny Cavnar with the A’s and Melanie Newman with the Orioles, and said she felt grateful that this role is almost starting to feel more normalized around the sport.

If anything, she said what hit her most is that she’ll get to call games for the team she grew up supporting as a native of Minot, N.D., with vivid memories of when her family would load up the old Chevrolet Impala and make the eight-hour drive to the Twin Cities for a weekend of games at the Metrodome.

The only sorrow is that her father, Duane, was the biggest Twins fan of all, but he passed away on March 12, without having gotten a chance to hear his daughter’s voice accompany his beloved team.

“If I had ever known that that girl would be sitting calling the game, that would have blown my mind,” Gellner said. “Now, it feels like it’s been a natural progression, but from that point, I would have been in complete disbelief.”

But at this point, much of this feels like business as usual for Gellner. An MLB clubhouse is a familiar, comfortable place for her. Play-by-play is nothing new. She’s surrounded by friends and supporters throughout the organization and has longtime relationships with both Justin Morneau and Denard Span, who will serve as her analysts for the series.

That’s what perhaps makes this feel like less of a spotlight -- though it’ll certainly be there.

“Not a lifelong goal, which still is to be a cast member on SNL,” Gellner said.

Gellner becomes first woman to call regular-season play-by-play for Twins (2024)

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