On my first day as a sports journalist, my editor and I spoke about my ultimate goal as a writer in the industry – he had one bit of advice that will forever stick with me, he told me to follow Emily Waldon. With an exquisite passion and diligent work ethic, Waldon has not only found herself amongst some of the greatest baseball writers in history – she has become an inspiration for young women who share her passion for the game.
Not only does Waldon write about national prospects in baseball, covering the Detroit Tigers MiLB affiliates for The Athletic and Baseball America – she is also an advocate for better treatment and pay for minor leaguers across the board. With the current on-going situation throughout MiLB, Waldon reached out on Twitter in hopes of others being willing to help out the players affected by the postponement of the 2020 season and mass releases.
It’s easy to see Waldon’s passion for baseball which began at an early age, a shared love for the game with her father. “This is an easy question – my dad is the reason I fell in love with the game. He was raised in Arkansas and moved to Michigan in his early 20s. He had grown up as a St. Louis Cardinals fan because that was the closest team in proximity to him growing up.”
She continued, “With us kids, baseball was the game that he introduced us to and with me being a daddy’s girl, if my dad liked it, I wanted to like it too.”
Waldon’s childhood bond with her father and love of the game turned into a career as an adult – but her path into the industry was not like most. “The way I got into covering the sport was a very unorthodox way of doing it – I didn’t have the internships or the college degree in journalism. I didn’t have the textbook process, but I had the work ethic and passion for the game, which I think that is what drove me to making a name for myself in the industry.”
Waldon believes that if you have the drive, the passion and the work ethic, there is no reason those dreams can’t come true. “If you have that passion for something and that drive to immerse yourself into something, I want people to know that it is possible and it’s never too late to purse what you love. At the end of the day, if you are willing to invest and put in the work, you will start to see the fruits of labor – that has been the situation for me.”
She added, “I think society has ultimately and unfortunately drilled the process into people that they feel like if they don’t do things a certain way, it won’t happen. Yeah, if you have the option of going to college and doing the internships, those are beneficial but through my own experience, it can be done without those things.”
As a female in the baseball industry, Waldon has faced challenges but ultimately believe there has been an improvement over the last six years. “I think the biggest improvement that I have seen in the last six years of being in the industry is, if you show that you are serious about what you do and that you are serious about investing in what you do – the lines of male and female start to blur in kind of a good way.”
Continuing on while speaking with Dugout Dish, “As long as you show that you are willing to put in the work and show that you are able to grind along with everyone else, after a while it shouldn’t matter if you are a man or woman – unfortunately, it probably always will to a certain degree because that is how society has been wired.”
Waldon cherishes the opportunities that she has been blessed with over the last six years, including the surreal moment of meeting Al Kaline. “I think the biggest surreal moment was when I met Al Kaline in 2017. We only talked for about 10 minutes, but I will never forget coming around the corner and seeing him.”
Kaline was her father’s favorite player growing up. “I just remember looking at him and thinking this is actually happening. The biggest takeaway from the conversation was when he asked me a bit about what I do and my career – I remember him telling me that I was going to make a difference and while I’ve been told this by my mentors, hearing it from him just sort of hit me differently. Hearing that from someone that has such a storied career and for him to make a comment that felt so genuine, it was a once in a lifetime moment. I consider that such an incredible opportunity.”
And as far as advice for young women looking to pursue a career in the baseball industry, Waldon shares wise words. “The biggest lesson that I learned early on was how important it is to know why you are doing what you are doing. I think everyone wants to “work in baseball” but I don’t think a lot of people realize how many roles and how many different skillsets are required. Try to figure out as soon as you can because if you are not careful, you can lose yourself and get pulled in multiple directions.”
As she said so genuinely and gracefully, “You keep on chasing it for each opportunity and it can happen.”
You can find Emily on Twitter and her words on The Athletic.
(Photo Courtesy of Emily C. Waldon’s social media)