Baseball is a way of life for Brooks-Moon
Family shared its passion for the game with Giants' P.A. announcer
SAN FRANCISCO -- The voice of Renel Brooks-Moon, which conveys energy and enthusiasm, gains true resonance once you learn about her background.Brooks-Moon was raised in Northern California by parents who loved baseball.
"I thought everybody's family was like that," she said.
Giants games at Candlestick Park were a frequent destination. Brooks-Moon's grandfather taught her mother how to keep score. Thus, she said, her ardor for the game "was kind of passed down to me."Brooks-Moon inherited more than an appreciation for the national pastime. The family's pride in its African-American heritage was even more profound. Brooks-Moon's father, Nathaniel Brooks, became San Francisco's first black high school principal in 1969, when he took the top job at Polytechnic High. He and his wife, Juanita, were reared in Texas and Arkansas under Jim Crow laws, prompting them to instill Renel and her two siblings with a strong sense of their racial identity.
"It's wonderful, because they're growing up in a world where it's not unusual to see a woman doing this," said Brooks-Moon, who also has been a popular radio disc jockey in San Francisco for close to 25 years.Brooks-Moon remains aware that she's a magnet for skeptics and admirers alike.
"It comes with a huge responsibility," she said. "I had to be good, and I wanted to be good, in hopes that this would open the door for other women -- and women of color -- to do more in sports."Being preceded as the Giants' P.A. announcer by another woman -- Sherry Davis -- only intensified Brooks-Moon's obligation to excel. "I knew that I was going to be watched heavily, and was concerned about some of the purists and traditionalists of the game not wanting another woman in there," Brooks-Moon said. "So I gave it my absolute all, and continue to do so. I have to acknowledge that I'm looked at as a role model in this position. And I take that very seriously." Brooks-Moon's perspective on blacks in baseball extends beyond her announcer's booth. She and her husband, Tommie, note with concern the diminished number of blacks playing the sport professionally.
"It's definitely worrisome," she said. "I'm willing to do whatever I can do in my small way to try to help out -- because it means a lot to me, the tradition of this game and the history of the Negro Leagues. I don't want those connections to be lost."The connections began for Brooks-Moon with her grandfather, Arthur Watson, who followed Negro League baseball passionately. She preserves them at each Giants home game, when she places a figurine of a Negro League player from the Baltimore Elite Giants by her microphone.
"He's with me to remind me of my legacy," she said.Brooks-Moon's lifelong appreciation for baseball enhances her work at AT&T Park.
"It's all about tradition, as far as I'm concerned," Brooks-Moon said. "You respect the game, let the game speak for itself, and when the time is right, you can add a little something. But don't go overboard. That's not baseball. The beauty of the game can speak for itself."
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.