Sherry Davis broke barriers with Giants

Written by: Isabelle Minasian

Sherry Davis came very close to not making history as the first fulltime female public address announcer in the major leagues.

Fortunately, her ultimate love for the game – and Candlestick Park – won out.

“I hadn’t even intended to go, but I woke up and it was just a beautiful day,” Davis said. “It was before the season and the call of the ballpark just got to me.”

In the early spring of 1993, the San Francisco Giants held an open audition for a new PA announcer and 500 people showed up to compete for the job, including Davis.

Each prospective announcer had the opportunity to read out two batters, and when Davis’ turn concluded with applause from her fellow contestants, she felt invigorated – but also concerned.

At the time, she was a legal secretary and after the high of nailing her audition wore off, the worry set in.

“’There are all those day games, what am I going to do?’ I thought to myself. ‘I can’t do that!’” Davis said. “’But in the back of my head I was saying, ‘If you have to sleep in the gutter, you’re going to do this.’”

One week later the phone rang, and the Giants invited her for a callback. Shortly thereafter, she got the job.

Davis was uniquely well-suited to pave the way for women as the PA announcer. Before working as a legal secretary, she was a theater major, with extensive vocal training. “I knew how to project and to annunciate, and how to put color in my voice,” she said.

She was also a deeply knowledgeable baseball fan.

“I read the sports page every day, and read baseball literature. At the games I listened to [former Giants broadcaster] Hank Greenwald on my headset,” Davis said. “The year before I got the job, I went to over 60 home games. I’d keep score, and was even the scorekeeper for my section.”

Her background in the game was crucial. When asked what advice she would give to other women who aspire to work in sports, she’s quick to affirm their place in the industry – “Don’t count yourself out of the job” – but also acknowledges the higher standard that women in sports are held to.

“You really have to know what you’re doing, and you have to be better.”

Being a trailblazer certainly came with its challenges – “I had to put up with a lot of baloney,” Davis remarked – but ultimately she was overwhelmed by the support she received from fans, players and team personnel.

Davis spent seven seasons as the Giants’ PA announcer, but one of her most memorable games was her debut, on Opening Day in 1993.

“For my first game, Tony Bennett sang, and The Grateful Dead did the National Anthem. The three Hall of Famers at the time – Willie Mays, Willie McCovey and Gaylord Perry – threw out the first pitch, along with Orlando Cepeda,” Davis recalls. “And then I got to say, ‘And the man who rightfully belongs in the Hall of Fame, Orlando Cepeda!’”

Cepeda was, of course, inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1999, and Davis has a place in Cooperstown, too: A photograph of her in the announcer’s booth, along with the scorecard from her first game, are on display in the Museum’s Diamond Dreams exhibit. Papers from her seven-year tenure with the Giants are also archived at the Hall of Fame.

“It’s very, very humbling,” Davis said, when asked about seeing herself in the Museum’s exhibit on women in baseball. “I do get emotional about this. I’m very, very honored by it.”

Isabelle Minasian was the digital content specialist at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum

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