For Chris Andrade, the choice is clear: “It’s Little League, everyone has a hometown and a team they’re cheering for.”
For Chris McKendry, transparency is the answer: “I’ll have to give full disclosure rather than have viewers find out after.”
Problem is, Chris A. and Chris M. are one in the same.
“I only use McKendry for TV,” she said. “So the moms from Westport [where McKendry and her family have lived the past 16 years] who don’t usually watch sports, but will tune into these games, will probably see me and go ‘Holy smoke, I didn’t know that’s what you did.’ They’ll be surprised.”
Sure enough, McKendry will be in Williamsport, Pa., through next week, reporting daily and calling a Little League World Series game for ESPN. She will also anchor the 11 a.m.-1 p.m. ET SportsCenter on Monday and Tuesday, Aug. 19-20.
McKendry, her two sons and husband have been involved in the Westport Little League the past six years. And, she’s tied into the local baseball scene enough to know, “It’s all everyone is talking about in town. After [pitcher] Chad Knight won Saturday night, you’d think we had Nolan Ryan on our team.”
McKendry approached ESPN executives about getting a Williamsport assignment several years ago.
“I told them ‘I’d really like to do this — I think you should send a mom, someone who knows how to talk to kids and other moms [in the TV audience],” she said. “I see the tournament from a different perspective — it’s not just about sports, it’s summertime, it’s kids, it’s Little League.’ And two years ago they said, ‘OK, you’re going.’”
Among her assignments will be calling the Third Place Consolation Game (Sunday, Aug. 25, 11 a.m., ESPN) with former Milwaukee Brewers pitcher Kyle Peterson for the second time.
“Kyle is phenomenal – he could do both roles,” McKendry said. “And, everyone has to play, so it gets hilarious between innings — I look down at the board I prepared, and it’s, ‘Are you kidding me? You’re subbing out all nine players?’”
Things should be a little calmer when she teams with her normal work co-host Jay Crawford for the two SportsCenter telecasts.
“We’ll probably do more Little League World Series [coverage] because we’re there,” says coordinating producer Mark Summer. “Through bumps and teases we’ll show the excitement and atmosphere of Williamsport — we’ll give you a reason, if you haven’t been there, to go to the Little League World Series.”
“It’s such a carnival – I spend all my time on the set smelling kettle popcorn,” McKendry says. “It’s fun being one of the rings in the three-ring circus – there are two other games going on, and we’re in the middle.”
Note: Chris McKendry will be featured on Front Row Friday, sharing some of her favorite moments as a SportsCenter anchor.