The Diamond Mom
By Anabel Marquez
Jessica Mendoza is no stranger to a ball park.
She is a lifelong softball star, to say the least.
After stellar high school and collegiate careers, Mendoza went on to represent her country on the world’s biggest stage.
The two-time Olympian brought home gold and silver medals, leading team USA on the field in Athens and Beijing.
Now Mendoza travels around the country as the first female Major League Baseball analyst and the only female on ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball broadcast alongside Alex Rodriguez and Matt Vasgersian.
She’s also an author and a mom of two active boys, Caleb and Caden, to whom she dedicates quality time, both discovering museums at cities across the country on weekends during baseball season and homeschooling them part-time on weekdays.
Most recently, she teamed up with her sister Alana and co-authored There’s No Base Like Home, a funny middle-grade novel that celebrates teamwork, family, and softball.
Her ability to balance career projects and motherhood comes from her love of tackling the impossible and landing winning results— Mendoza loves challenges.
“If it’s something that’s going to better me and my family and I know is going to be hard— then I’m really excited about it,” she says. “If it’s a challenge, I want to do it. I would be bored if there wasn’t something that made me nervous.”
While chatting on a terrace overlooking Los Angeles, Mendoza opened up about baseball and being a boy mom. She is light-hearted and easy to share a laugh with, often referencing funny stories about her kids and their careful eye for their mom’s Olympic gold medal when other kids want to hold it at school.
To Mendoza, raising her boys with a sense of appreciation towards all people, has been a priority.
“When we have conversations, it’s so important that they learn to love everybody equally,” she says.
And she’ll go the distance if it means not missing out on special occasions, like in 2016, when she used her travel day between Cleveland and Chicago to spend Halloween with her kids.
“I flew home, did the costumes, trick-or-treated with the kids, then took a Redeye back so I could be at work at 7 am the next day (in Chicago). It was insane,” she shares with a laugh. “As much as I was exhausted, I was refreshed because I got to see my boys. Halloween at that age made them so excited that mom was going to be with them!”
ON HER EXPERIENCE AS A PROFESSIONAL ATHLETE WITH A NEWBORN
After coming home from Beijing with an Olympic silver medal, Mendoza and her husband started family planning.
She took the following summer off and delivered her son Caleb in 2009.
In 2010, she joined the USSSA Pride, a professional softball team based in Florida.
“We traveled all over the world,” recalls Mendoza. “My husband quit his job at that point, so he could travel with me. I look back and it was some the best memories of my life. Me and my husband and this newborn little boy that didn’t know the difference.”
Her baby would sometimes be in the dugout with his “eighteen aunts,” Mendoza shares alluding to her fellow teammates. Those memories make Mendoza happy.
“I realized you can have a child, play a professional sport– that doesn’t pay a ton of money but you’re doing it ‘cause you love it– and still make it work.”
But not all aspects of being a new mom came easy for Mendoza during that time.
She was breastfeeding her baby and would often spend eight hours on the field with no dedicated space to pump or store milk.
Nursing was also posing additional challenges to her game.
“It’s crazy how much it affects you playing…how much it hurts. There were times where I couldn’t dive because I had to get the milk out.”
And while Mendoza handled the demands of motherhood and professional softball seamlessly, she has questioned whether the world of professional sports should be more considerate of the needs of nursing mothers.
“I ended up losing my milk… It was something I regretted later,” she remembers.
By the time Mendoza was expecting her second child, she took time to analyze her softball career. She considered her age, her accomplishments and the travel and time spent away from home with her first-born.
“I decided to retire,” she shares. “I was blessed because at this point, I was 32 and I had played in two Olympics and we’d won the championship the year before.”
Plus, ESPN had been looking for a unique voice to place in the commentator’s booth and Mendoza was an ideal candidate.
As an analyst, Mendoza feels at home. She jumps right into the mix with some of the sports network’s most respected commentators, most of whom are men.
“In my job, my kids don’t notice, ‘oh she’s a woman, next to a lot of men doing a man’s job’. They just see mom doing what mom does. I want them to grow up knowing anyone can do anything.”
Connect with Jessica!
ESPN: Media Zone Jessica-Mendoza
More on her book: There’s No Base Like Home
Mommy In Los Angeles® Magazine had the pleasure of spending an afternoon with Jessica Mendoza. Her undeniable talent both on the field and in the ESPN booth combined with her humble, down-to-earth personality and love of family make her a one-of-a-kind WOWMOM. We congratulate her on so many accomplishments and look forward to sharing more news and updates from Jessica’s new venture as a book publisher.
Every Mom Has a Story.