A shared love for the game of baseball with her father, a lifelong love for the Oakland Athletics, and ultimately a dream led Jessica Kleinschmidt to the biggest stage in Major League Baseball.
If you follow Major League Baseball in any shape or form, there is a big chance you’ve heard her name at least once. The NBC Sports Baseball Analyst is making a name for herself in a male dominated industry and continues to open doors for the future. Showing young women who are ready to take on the world and sports industry that it is possible for dreams to come true.
“You need to have humility and really need to be yourself. I love that I’m an inspiration to women – like that’s so important, but I wouldn’t be here without being my authentic self.”
Being authentic is something that draws people to Kleinschmidt on and off the field. Not only does she show her knowledge and love for the game with her words and in her interviews with baseball players, she allows the world to see her as a friend, a mentor, and a human being.
“I look up to the Sarah Spain type women of the world and Katie Nolan. Like I know I cannot be the next Katie Nolan because she’s great and what she is doing is dope, but also I have to remind myself that being the first Jess means create so many things that haven’t been done yet.”
At 24-years-old, Kleinschmidt gave up her government job and went after her dream of working in the baseball industry. She will be the first to admit that it was the dumbest and yet smartest decision she has ever made.
“I had to fight tooth and nail to get where I am today but I’m glad I did it.”
Kleinschmidt will also be the first to admit that her decision wasn’t the easiest to make and wants young women to know there is a lot of give and take when it comes to working in the industry. “This type of job, you get lost in it – it becomes your life. Do you really want to do this? You need to sit down and have a conversation with yourself, with God, and with your family.”
There was a time when she did not know if her dream would become a reality. On the cusp of giving up, everything began to fall into place for Kleinschmidt. While on the phone with her close friend Melanie Newman, who is now the first female broadcaster for the Baltimore Orioles, destiny came calling on the other line.
“Melanie Newman is one of my closest friends and when I called her and told her that I couldn’t do it anymore, Major League Baseball was on the other line offering me a job.”
Kleinschmidt worked for Major League Baseball and would then later be hired by NBC Sports in the Bay Area, covering the Oakland Athletics and San Francisco Giants. The rest has been history but it isn’t always as glamorous as it seems online.
“I deal with a lot online – sexual harassment and I’m often sent threats on Twitter. I have a lot of people that say awful things to me through social media. It isn’t as easy as saying just ignore it. You have to find friends that are used to it and understand what you are going through. Ultimately, you have to find a good support system and you have to be a very strong individual with this job.”
The bond between a girl and her father is forever unbreakable, which is something Kleinschmidt knows all too well. She and her father shared a love of baseball and a love for the Oakland A’s, a team that she now covers with her career. “I raised as a fan of the A’s and there is a huge connection there with my dad.”
“My dad passed away when I was 19 and I wish that every day, he could see me and say I’m proud of you.”
“My dad was from Baltimore and every time something with Baltimore happens, whether it is a story or an interview with a player, I wish he could be a part of that.”
During quarantine, things have been a bit different from her usual routine. But a shared moment with former A’s pitcher and her friend/colleague Dallas Braden left her having a full circle moment. “I was talking to Dallas Braden about his perfect game and on my desk, there is a photo of me and my father.”
“It was a moment for me because not only was I getting to interview Dallas Braden, my friend and my colleague — my dad’s photo was in the background. It was full circle because the last MLB game my dad and I saw in person together was an A’s game.”
Kleinschmidt’s father is one of the biggest reasons for her falling in love with the game. Once her coach and then turned baseball dad, the two shared a bond that will live on with the legacy that Jessica Kleinschmidt creates every day.
(Photo Credit courtesy of Jessica Kleinschmidt.)