St. Louis Cardinals beat writer Matthew Leach recently announced that he will be heading to New York in a new role for MLB.com. Shortly thereafter, Jenifer Langosch, of the Pittsburgh Pirates beat, was announced as his replacement on the Cards beat.
While Jenifer will not take over for a few weeks yet, she did take some time to sit down with i70baseball and answer some questions about herself for our readers.
Bill Ivie, i70baseball: This is a bit of a homecoming for you, a Mizzou Grad, are you originally from the area or did you move here for school?
Jenifer Langosch, MLB.com: I moved to Missouri back in August 2003 when I entered Mizzou as a freshman journalism student. I remained a Missourian until graduating in ’07. I left Columbia upon graduation to move to Pittsburgh, where I began my role as Pirates beat writer for MLB.com.
I actually spent most of my childhood in Georgia – with brief stops living in Virginia and Illinois when I was really young. I grew up in a city named Marietta, which is a northern suburb of Atlanta. It also just so happens to be a hotbed for baseball talent.
Ivie: Did you grow up a baseball fan or was there another reason you went into sports journalism?
Langosch: I absolutely grew up a baseball fan, which was mostly my parents’ doing. Dad had always been a Cubs fan, while my mom grew up rooting for the White Sox. Yes – I know – that makes for an interesting family dynamic. Living outside of Atlanta, however, I was raised a Braves fan. Quite frankly, it was hard not to be given that all they did was win (until October, at least) when I was growing up.
Looking back on my childhood, baseball was certainly an obsession. I was the elementary-aged kid that kept a pitch-by-pitch notebook while watching games on TV, and I would often fall asleep with my Sony radio next to my pillow. I was just eight when I started telling people I was going to be a sportscaster, though I eventually (and fortunately) set my sights on writing instead. You could say, too, that my family just fueled the obsession. Our summer vacations would often include a trip to see the Braves somewhere on the road, including a 1994 road trip to old Busch Stadium.
Anyways, all this pointed me in the direction of sports journalism and to Mizzou.
Ivie: I understand you are a bit of Braves fan from your youth, do you still find yourself routing for them?
Langosch: As I mentioned above, I did grow up a Braves fan. I wouldn’t, however, still call myself a fan. I do take an interest in how the team is doing and where the organization is going, but I think it’s important that there be separation between profession and personal interests. Not to mention that serving as a beat writer for another team doesn’t allow much time to engross yourself in another organization.
Ivie: Did you have a favorite player growing up? Why that player?
Langosch: Oddly enough, I was an Otis Nixon fan as a kid. A close second would be Fred McGriff –27 is still my favorite number. I’m not sure why I developed a particular liking to these two, though I do remember meeting Nixon through my dad’s work at one point. I am pretty sure that I was the only kid going to baseball card shows asking vendors if they were selling any Nixon cards. The nice thing was that Nixon’s cards were always affordable.
Ivie: Five years covering the Pirates, any favorite stories or favorite players you worked with you can share with us?
Langosch: There are several memorable Pirates games I’ve covered, though at the top of the list has to be the 19-inning loss the Pirates suffered to the Braves this past July. The name Jerry Meals will never be forgotten after being at Turner Field that night.
Over the years, I have had a lot of people ask me how I could stay enthusiastic while covering an habitually below-.500 team. To that, I always tell people that covering a baseball team goes way beyond wins and losses. Just as many intriguing stories can be found on teams that struggle, and the Pirates organization has been a pleasure to cover. From players to front office folks to coaches and managers and other staff, I have nothing but terrific things to say about the people in Pittsburgh. Being able to build relationships with these people made my job especially rewarding.
Ivie: What are you most looking forward to when covering the Cards?
Langosch: Though Pittsburgh certainly has the potential to one day return to being a baseball town, it is very much football first and hockey second right now. What is so exciting about moving to St. Louis is that baseball is truly king. I was fortunate to help out Matthew Leach with playoff coverage in 2009 and 2011, which gave me the opportunity to see the passion this city has for the Cardinals. Witnessing and writing about Game 6 of the World Series in 2011 remains one of the highlights of my professional career.
I am excited about working with and meeting new people and seeing the inner workings of another organization, too. The professional challenge of covering a new team is something I’m very much looking forward to.
Ivie: As a woman, do you feel it is challenging to be in the field you are in?
Langosch: I am very fortunate to be coming from an organization where women in the media were treated with respect. As a result, I don’t have any particularly negative experiences to mention. I have found that it can take women sportswriters a little longer to gain credibility (among players and fans) than our male counterparts, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. I have no issue having to prove to readers that I’m capable of giving them the coverage that they want and deserve.
After several years in the business, I have become mostly immune to the fact that I work with and alongside almost all men. I’ve gotten past the point where I notice the imbalance, and I have never found myself at a disadvantage because I am a woman. For that, I remain very thankful to all the women sportswriters who came before me and paved the way toward a future with much less discrimination.
Ivie: How do you think your experience within the division will help you in this role?
Langosch: Obviously, I think my familiarity with the Cardinals will help with this transition. Not only have I seen the Cardinals in person 15-18 time a year for the last five years, but, as I mentioned above, I have also covered the Cardinals in three different playoff series. I am familiar with where the club has been over the past few years and have had the opportunity to talk with a number of people still in the organization. That’s not to say, though, that I still don’t have much to learn. One of my priorities right now is delving into Cardinals history so that I can have an acute perspective of this organization. There will certainly be a learning curve – and I ask that readers be patient during that process. But I can promise you that I will jump in with both feet and immerse myself in all things Cardinals as soon as I begin.
Ivie: If you could go back in time to a young Jenifer Langosch, what advice would you give her?
Langosch: I would probably tell myself not to let anyone discourage me from my dreams. While I am ultimately doing what I have always wanted, there were several people who long ago told me I should set my sights elsewhere, that a woman couldn’t accurately write about a sport she never played. While this didn’t stop me from pursuing what I wanted, it certainly infiltrated my thoughts and left me wondering, at times, whether this was the right career path. The fact that I even ever listened to any of that chatter is a shame.
I’d probably also have told myself to take more of an interest in music. Why, you might ask? Well, I know I am replacing someone who is way more knowledgeable about music than I am and I feel a bit unprepared to carry that legacy. As it is, I should probably just apologize to Matthew now for being inept to follow in that part of his footsteps. I hope Cardinal nation will forgive me.
Ivie: Do you find yourself working with more and more women in the industry?
Langosch: Perhaps it is not representative of a national shift, but I did find that there was an increase in the number of women I worked with in Pittsburgh. In fact, there were some days where there would be more female media members in the clubhouse than male ones. That was a far cry from my first season covering the Pirates when I was often the only female (or one of two) in the Pirates clubhouse. Sports journalism has long been a man’s domain, and quite frankly, I think it always will be. There are several reasons for that stance, though I won’t dive into those here.
That said, opportunities are there for women who have an interest in breaking through. Over the last few years, I have taken an interest in talking with females who are interested in a career in sports journalism, and I always encourage them to ignore those who still say they don’t belong in this field. The hours, the demands, it can all be overwhelming at times. But I also can’t imagine a job more rewarding than this.
Jenifer and Matthew Leach sat down with Bill Ivie and Chris Mallonee on the UCB Radio Hour broadcast. You can download that show by clicking here.
Bill Ivie is the editor here at I-70 Baseball as well as the Assignment Editor for BaseballDigest.com.
He is the host of I-70 Radio, hosted every week on BlogTalkRadio.com.
Follow him on Twitter here.