Giants' PA announcer living a dream
Renel Brooks-Moon was talking -- her profession, after all -- about the difference between interviewing Donald Trump on her morning radio show and introducing Tony Gwynn in his final big-league game in San Francisco.
Basically, a Trump interview comes and goes. A Gwynn moment lasts forever.
"The Giants paid tribute to Tony for his final game, and he tipped his cap to me," Brooks-Moon said. "I almost flipped out. Donald Trump is one thing. But getting a tip of the cap from Tony Gwynn? I turn into oatmeal."
First and foremost, Brooks-Moon is a baseball fan, a fact she doesn't dispute, and she still considers her role as the Giants' public address announcer a dream job. It's her seventh year, and it's not getting old even though she continues to carry out double duty, starting with her morning-drive radio gig on a classic soul station, KISS 98.1 FM.
Brooks-Moon began as the Giants' PA announcer the first year they moved into their downtown ballpark, in 2000. Two years later, she became the first woman PA announcer at a World Series -- her scorecard is in the Hall of Fame.
Now she's so much part of the game-day experience, it would seem odd if she wasn't the one calling out Barry Bonds' name before every at-bat, along with the team's defensive substitutions and other announcements before, during and after games.
"For me, there's not a day that goes by that I don't think about being a trailblazer, for lack of a better word," Brooks-Moon said. "With cable networks and all-sports networks, you see more women in these broadcasting roles. It's not unusual, which is amazing. The best thing is, little boys see me and come up and hug me. Little girls see me and realize it's all about possibilities. To be an inspiration is a bonus. I'm a woman of color, and everything I do holds great responsibility."
Brooks-Moon, 47, is an Oakland native who graduated from Oakland's Mills College. She was born in 1958, the year the Giants moved west. Her parents were raised in Texas, followers of the Negro Leagues. Her father was San Francisco's first African American high school administrator. Her mother might be the biggest Giants fan she knows, particularly of the Mays-McCovey-Marichal ilk.
Brooks-Moon actually replaced another woman, Sherry Davis, who was the PA announcer in the Giants' final seven seasons at Candlestick Park and the first female PA announcer in the majors. The Giants made a switch, they said at the time, because they wanted someone with a richer voice quality and more dynamic presence.
"There's no way you can really know what the job is all about unless you do it," Brooks-Moon said. "I love baseball. I grew up here. I went to games at Candlestick. I actually grew up at a time when you could support both teams, Giants and A's, and we went to see the A's in their championship years in the '70s. I take a little ribbing for that.
"I never thought I'd get the job because I was a radio personality who was somewhat over the top, but I knew I wouldn't bring that particular style in the booth."
Mets broadcaster Keith Hernandez's well-circulated on-air comments about Padres massage therapist Kelly Calabrese -- "women don't belong in the dugout" -- didn't go unnoticed by Brooks-Moon. They were impossible to ignore because the day the comments circulated throughout the industry was the day the Mets opened a series in San Francisco.
"I was disappointed. My first reaction was, 'C'mon, it's 2006, man,' " Brooks-Moon said. "Haven't we gotten over that? It's funny. I rode the elevator with him that day, and he seemed overly gentlemanly to me. Allowed me to go first on the elevator, holding the door. He was obviously overdoing it."
Bonds is the only Giants player who has been around as long as Brooks-Moon, so she knows exactly what to expect when it comes time to announce his name.
"I let the crowd lead me," she said. "If it's a situation where he could turn the game around, they're getting really excited. A lot of times, before I turn the microphone on, they're already cheering."
John Shea is the national baseball writer for the San Francisco Chronicle.
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