Visalia Broadcaster Jill Gearin Excels While Also Inspiring
For Jill Gearin, life has always been about baseball.
Being a part of a select group of women working in the game is a reminder that Gearin has been given the opportunity to do what she loves, all while impacting the next generation of young women coming after her.
Gearin’s father Kevin gave her her first baseball scorebook lesson at 7 years old, at one of the many major league games the two attended together. She grew up in the Los Angeles area.
“Scoring a game really made me sit down and focus and understand what was going on and then ask my dad questions about different things,” Gearin said.
“I think that’s really where my first love for the sport came from.
“As I got older and went through different things, having baseball as my kind of mental outlet was really important for me—and that continued into softball. I feel like diamond sports, both baseball and softball, kind of became my brand almost.”
As a sophomore at Emerson College in Boston, where she played varsity softball, Gearin was called upon to serve as a color analyst, the first woman to fill that role.
Her first play-by-play assignment came in 2017 when, as a rising senior, she called games for the Nashua, N.H., club in the summer collegiate Futures Collegiate Baseball League.
Getting her feet wet in both analyst and play-by-play roles opened Gearin’s eyes to the challenges that come early in a broadcasting career.
“I think the pace of play is tough,” Gearin said. “Baseball is so different from other sports, where you don’t have to be talking all the time. You can let the crowd make some noise. You can explain some things. You don’t have to be fast. And having the understanding of that, I think is rare.”
Gearin studied the work of the late Red Sox color commentator Jerry Remy and his NESN broadcast partner Don Orsillo, who worked with Remy before the Padres hired him as lead broadcaster in 2016.
Following college graduation, Gearin was hired by the Visalia Rawhide in 2018 as their director of broadcasting and media relations. Visalia has been a D-backs affiliate since 2007 and is now classified as Low-A.
By accepting the position, Gearin became one of three women at the time to hold the position across 120 affiliated full-season minor league teams that year.
“I think it’s tough because there are times where I want to embrace the role of being the only woman in California doing this, of being only one of (five female broadcasters) in the minor leagues (in 2021),” Gearin said. “So that way there are younger girls who know that they can grow up to literally be whatever they want.
“But I also just want to be Jill. I don’t want to be known as the token woman.”
Gearin doesn’t take the role lightly. She makes a point to collect contact information for everyone she makes a connection with throughout the season and when the year comes to a close, she fires out a text or email, thanking each one for their time and openness to making the connection.
“It just helps people see you, get to know you as a good person, know that you work hard, you care about people and it keeps you in the forefront of their mind,” Gearin said. “And I love that. That’s what baseball is. Baseball is a sport of relationships.”
As if Gearin’s role weren’t exhausting enough, she assumed an oversight role for the Rawhide’s marketing program in 2021.
Gearin knows that few could handle her 13- to 14-hour day during the season, but it’s one more opportunity for her to grow, and she’s proven that she’s more than up for a challenge.