“Go Out Of Your Way To Help A Fellow Female Attain Her Dream” With Amy G.
Words of Wisdom with Amy G., of NBC Sports Bay Area
I had the pleasure of interviewing Amy Gutierrez, more commonly known as Amy G. in the Bay Area where she resides and works. She’s a 4-time emmy-award winning sports reporter and a multi emmy-nominated sports producer who covers the San Francisco Giants for NBC Sports Bay Area. She’s also the best selling author of Smarty Marty’s Got game, which brings a girl character into the spotlight of the male-dominated world of baseball. She’s entering her 11th season covering the Giants, has been married to her Sports Journalist husband Paul, for 17 years and is Mom to Zach (13) and Grace (10).
What is your “backstory”?
When I look back at my childhood, it’s no surprise I ended up doing what I do today. Baseball is a huge part of my family. My paternal great-grandfather played semi-pro ball in Cleveland, OH. His daughter, my grandmother, may qualify as the biggest baseball fan EVER. Born in 1923, a time when women expressing their love and knowledge of the game wasn’t exactly common-place, she could discuss strategy with the best of “him”. Admittedly, she was a Dodgers fan, but a bigger fan of the “game”, so we let that slide. My father, a pitcher, and a damn good one received a scholarship to Stanford University. My dad coached both my brother and me in baseball/softball and my mom was the official scorekeeper and extremely knowledgeable about the game. So liking and playing baseball, well… it’s in my DNA. And it’s more than a game for me, it’s a constant memory and connection to my childhood and those I love the most. Baseball is my happy place.
Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that occurred to you in the course of your career?
There have been so many funny moments, mainly because I work with two rock stars known as Kruk and Kuip, formally, Duane Kuiper and Mike Krukow. They have been calling Giants games for more than 30 years together and to be a part of that relationship and family is not only humbling, it’s hilarious. Moments you wouldn’t even think would be perceived as funny are spun by K&K until you’re in stitches. I have the “Heisman” incident when a fan was on his phone and began to walk into my shot while I was live. I stiff-armed him out of a natural panicked reaction and that gave K&K fodder for many broadcasts to come. Then there’s the time I nearly got nailed by a foul flyball and my instincts kicked in to snag it. It just so happened a Dodger fan went for it at the same time. I came up with the ball after a little tug-of-war with the Dodger fan pleading for me to give it to him. Seriously? I gave him the “No, way” finger-wag (very mom-like or “Mutombo” as it came to be known). I know my audience and I would be run out of town should I publicly give anyone in Dodger Blue, anything! Just so happens the whole thing was caught on our broadcast and K&K had a field day. So, I do my part, but mainly the funny moments come from just being myself and I’m pretty proud of that.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
After the Giants won their first World Series on the west coast in 2010, the profile of the players and broadcasters took on a whole new life. So you can imagine how popular this organization and team became after they won 3 in 5 years! The biggest passion project or my “side hustle”, has been writing children’s books with Petaluma boutique Publisher, Cameron & Company. It’s been a fabulous opportunity to share my love of books and reading to an audience that has really only known a small part of me from seeing me briefly on the broadcasts. I was able to combine my love of books with a topic I’m passionate about, gender equality. I wanted to do my part to ensure not just my daughter, but girls everywhere have the same opportunities as boys and are regarded with the same respect in an area they may not seem to be a natural fit, like baseball. Thus the 2013 launch of “Smarty Marty’s Got Game”, a tale of a young girl who knows everything about the game of baseball and helps her little brother (who doesn’t like the game) discover a love for America’s Pastime through teaching him how to score. Creating a scorebook for kids and adults to use at contests was a natural next step and my latest labor of love, a chapter book about our heroine called “Smarty Marty Steps Up Her Game”, continues the story of Marty and the obstacles she faces as a girl in the boy-dominated world of sports. It’s been amazing to utilize my platform of covering a MLB team to shed light on the inequality of girls/women in our society and pose the question, “Why not a girl?” Stay tuned as I’m currently working on Marty’s next adventure….
Who are some of the most famous people you have interacted with? What was that like? Do you have any stories?
There are A LOT of famous Giants fans. And many celebrities perform in SF and hit a game while visiting. I’ve had so much fun meeting and interviewing Hollywood stars, famous athletes, politcians etc. Benjamin Bratt is often at Opening Day. Nancy Pelosi, Billy Jean King, Hugh Jackman, Hall of Famer Joe Montana, Brett Favre, Gold Medal gymnast Aly Raisman, soccer icon Abby Wambach, Jeff Goldblum, Peter Krause, Bill Gates, Paula Abdul, rock-n-roll Hall of Famer, Carlos Santana and Savannah Guthrie to name a few. The best story I have happened after I met Hugh Jackman. He’s Wolverine for crying out loud and very, very handsome. Before our interview he asked me if I needed anything and would I like some sunscreen. He was charming to say the least. Apparently post interview as I was swooning over Jackman and telling my camera man how beautiful he was, my phone had butt-dialed my husband who was saying, “Hey there, I can hear you…I can hear you…this is a little weird.” But thankfully, Paul (husband) is a fan too, so he was very understanding.
Which people in history inspire you the most? Why?
Any type of underdog or someone willing to fight for his/her beliefs that lead to positive change in our society is my hero. So many people in history sacrificed so much for what we have today. It’s alarming how volatile a time we are currently living in and I worry that those sacrifices made, will need to be made again should we reverse our path of progress. My most direct influences and inspirations though come from those first few women who said, “I want a career covering sports because I love sports and I know just as much as the guy next to me.” The courage it took to be the only female in a locker room or clubhouse, the amount of criticism and harassment they endured so I can walk freely into the Giants clubhouse and feel respected is a debt I will never be able to repay. I can only attempt to pay it forward by my candor and professionalism.
What advice would you give to someone considering a career in journalism?
Respect the position of influence you hold. Be fair. Be truthful. Be professional. Never stop learning. Always be available to those who look to you for advice and guidance in this career.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
I don’t know if I’ve brought “goodness” to the world. I simply try to be a good person. It’s really all about the Golden Rule. I put out what I want to receive, which is attempting every day to be kind, thoughtful and giving. My first priority, always, is my role as a mother. If I can raise two children who have empathy, intellect and curiosity I believe I am doing right by them and by the society in which we live. It is my duty to deliver young minds into the world equipped with knowledge and kindness yet lined with a humility that makes them relatable. I also believe in giving back to my community whenever I can. It feels good to make people feel good. I wish more people knew that’s the secret to giving back.
I know this is not an easy job. What drives you?
Time to reveal a little known secret — I’m SUPER competitive. As I mentioned above, I love an underdog and 10 years ago when I began covering the SF Giants, it’s fair to say I was an underdog. My boss was on the fence for several seasons as to whether he should keep me in this role because a few “vocal” male colleagues didn’t think I should have joined the party. It was rough, not gonna lie, and hard to believe how vindictive and mean fellow journalists can be. My boss was conflicted: keep subjecting me to the criticism and toughen me up or put me back in a producer role where I had previously flourished, but reached a stalemate. Obviously he decided I needed thicker skin and saw a potential in me he knew I couldn’t yet see for myself. I’m forever grateful. It’s an experience I will always have to draw upon when the going gets tough. So what drives me? People who think I couldn’t do something….so thank you to my earlier critics.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
What makes a journalist excel? Seems like a tough question to answer, but after 20+ years in the business, I at least think I have an idea of what leads to longevity in this industry which may just translate to why some of us are seen as “excelling”.
First and foremost — I try to keep it simple. This is a rule I follow not just in my line of work, but in this adventure we call life. I’m a mother of 2 (13-yr old son, 10-yr old daughter), wife, daughter, sister and then….journalist. Keeping it simple is the only way I can keep my head wrapped around a multitude of schedules, events, responsibilities, appointments and my daily duties in my job. Covering baseball can lead to some extensive and layered statistics, analysis, jargon, and hours. I always ask myself (as a former producer), how can I say this information to the audience in 20 seconds. I use bullet points and I stay on point. It limits the ramble which limits the audience saying/thinking “what in the world is she talking about”.
Know your subject! DO NOT TALK ABOUT any aspect of the subject you’re discussing that you do not fully understand. I’ll fully admit, in my line of work from where I sit in the dugout or look out onto the field from the View Reserve section at AT&T Park which is oh, about 10–15 stories high, I can not see the difference between a front door and back door slider. Soooo, I don’t discuss it. My question should the player hit a dinger on that particular pitch is how he prepared the for AT-BAT or what pitch did he see.
You never try to outsmart your interviewee, and the audience doesn’t care if you drop terminology, unless you drop the wrong terminology. Once that happens you’ve opened yourself up to a slew of social media critics who don’t think a woman belongs in baseball. So stick to what you know and work on learning more every day you are lucky enough to be a jourmalist.
If you don’t have thick skin, take a hike! It’s been building, the thickness of my skin. Now in my 11th season covering the SF Giants and the exposure I receive on social media, my skin is leather. I just hope it doesn’t look like it! As a person on TV, you will have haters. Some outrageous, some understated, most living in their Aunt’s basement with an egghead as their profile picture. BUT, it’s part of the gig. The moment you acquiesce and say to yourself, I cannot make everyone happy is a day you move forward in your career path of being a journalist who excels, because your focus becomes telling a good story, not hoping people like you.
Be friendly, don’t be friends! The 25-man roster I cover, along with the coaching staff and minor league players that will bounce up and down to the Giants over the course of the season are, for the most part an awesome group of men. They are my colleagues. They are not my “friends”. I do not socialize with them outside of the park or outside of a planned work event. That doesn’t mean I don’t have relationships with them, but the relationships we have are professional. And YOU and YOU alone are responsible for setting that tone. The last thing you want affecting your career are rumors, but if there isn’t any truth to the rumors you will be ok and you will have a respectable reputation. And in this business reputation really is everything.
Support other women in the business! I’m a big believer in karma. What you put out is what you get back. I can’t think of one successful person who didn’t have a helpful hand from someone along the way. Paying it forward is something women in general are REALLY bad at, especially in television. We are so territorial and competitive. Don’t be. Why not help the young, beautiful, smart female intern that admires what you do? If you help her, you set the stage for her to help the young, beautiful, smart female generation of hopeful journalists coming up behind her. There is room for us all and we all have different strengths to keep us working and engaged in a difficult yet coveted career. So be supportive. Go out of your way to help a fellow female attain her dream. And then some day soon, I’ll be reading your 5 tips on how to excel in journalism.
Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might see this. :-)
Do I have to choose? I lean towards female journalists, simply because I think I can identify with them a bit more. But there are many men I admire too.
What I wouldn’t give to have a conversation with Martin Luther King Jr. or Stephen Grover Cleveland, the 22nd and 24th President of the United States and my 6th grade term paper subject! I’m kidding, I probably wouldn’t choose him.
But Jane Pauley, Diane Sawyer, Barbara Walters, Lesley Stahl, Katie Couric, Oprah Winfrey, Connie Chung all influenced my decision to take the path of becoming a journalist. In fact, my mother is quick to remind me I used to impersonate several of them in my room while holding a hairbrush as a microphone! They are smart, beautiful, confident women who held their heads high amidst constant criticism (just for doing their job) and seemingly found a balance. That balance is key and I would ask them for their secret.
But in truth, I would choose to have one more breakfast, one more lunch and one more conversation with my grandmother, the one who loved the Dodgers. I’d ask her if she’s had a change of heart in heaven and decided to root for the orange and black. And then I’d give her one more kiss and one more hug. What I would give for that.
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If you would like to see the entire “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me” Series In Huffpost, ThriveGlobal, and Buzzfeed, click HERE.