If I had to guess where Jennie Finch’s career is heading next, I would say “television;” possibly her own show on one of ESPN’s networks.
“I visited ESPN last week and went through the car wash there of maybe figuring out what role would work. So it’s kind of an open door and I’m looking at my options,” Finch told me during our exclusive conversation Friday night.
The “car wash” is when an individual comes to ESPN’s headquarters in Bristol and gets “the works.” They make television, radio appearances, do a chat on ESPN.com, podcasts etc. It’s mass media multitasking at it’s finest. And Finch is as media savvy as anyone.
By Paul M. Banks
For part one of this interview go here
Television is the medium in which she shines the brightest. In 2008, Finch was featured as a contestant on The Celebrity Apprentice. She also became the first woman to appear on Spike TV’s Pros vs Joes and appeared on an episode of The Real Housewives of Orange County.
Finch majored in communications at the University of Arizona, but “unfortunately, I dropped out of public speaking, and we didn’t have any kind of media studies directed towards this (line of work). I kind of picked this up as I went along,” she responded when I asked her if she had any formal media training or coaching.
I then asked her about the rumors circulating that she might want to own a team.
“I don’t know about that, but Bill (Sokolis, Chicago Bandits owner) and I have talked about some things. My heart is in Chicago, I’ve been with them since the beginning and I’d love to stay involved and stay part of the team, so that may be something in the future, especially here in Chicago,” she responded.
Next year will certainly be an exciting one for the Bandits because they will finally have their own stadium; a brand new facility in Rosemont. And Finch’s heart should be in Chicago because…”the history of softball goes way back here in the Midwest, especially in Chicago,” she continued.
It’s true, the history of softball reads like this:
Softball originated in Chicago on Thanksgiving Day, 1887. A group of about twenty young men had gathered in the gymnasium of the Farragut Boat Club in order to hear the outcome of the Harvard-Yale football game. After Yale’s victory was announced and bets were paid off, a man picked up a stray boxing glove and threw it at someone, who hit it with a pole. George Hancock, usually considered the inventor of softball, shouted, “Let’s play ball!” He tied the boxing glove so that it resembled a ball, chalked out a diamond on the floor (smaller dimensions than those of a baseball field in order to fit the gym) and broke off a broom handle to serve as a bat. What proceeded was an odd, smaller version of baseball. That game is now, 111 years later, known as the first softball game.
Next season, the team Finch plays for will finally have their own stadium, a brand new facility in Rosemont, IL. An expanded role in television and franchise ownership may come later down the line, but Finch has plenty to do in the short term, once her retirement begins.
“I look forward to spending time with my family, I have my own camps and clinics that I run, so I’ll be expanding and growing that. We’ll see what comes,” she said.
And of course, the icon of professional softball will further attempt to have women’s softball reinstated as an Olympic sport. Unfortunately, her lobbying efforts to date have failed, as the sport will not be included in the 2012 and 2016 games.
“I’ll do anything and everything that I can,” Finch stated.
“Because of playing and training year round, I feel like I haven’t been able to do as much as I would like. So in some ways, this will allow me to give back and promote this game more so than I already have on the playing field.”
As much as she has done for the sport in playing it. She ironically may be able to do even more to greater enhance the game in her retirement.
Written by Paul M. Banks, President and CEO of The Sports Bank.net , a Midwest focused webzine. He is also a regular contributor to Chicago Now, the Chicago Tribune’s blog network, Walter Football.com, the Washington Times Communities, Yardbarker Network, and Fox Sports.com
You can follow him on Twitter @thesportsbank and @bigtenguru