Bush­man, who made his­tory as A’s broad­caster, dies at 89

San Francisco Chronicle - - BAY AREA -

Betty Bush­man had been a model and a tele­vi­sion weather fore­caster when Charles O. Fin­ley, the can­tan­ker­ous owner of the Kansas City Ath­let­ics, asked her to join his mori­bund team’s ra­dio crew in the wan­ing days of the 1964 sea­son.

“I know as much about base­ball as the av­er­age woman does,” she said at the time.

Bush­man, known then as Betty Cay­wood, was a pi­o­neer — the first woman to call a ma­jor­league base­ball team’s games. But her hir­ing was a pro­mo­tional ploy by Fin­ley, then base­ball’s fore­most per­pe­tra­tor of gim­micks. He needed her to ap­peal to “the dolls,” as he put it — to turn more women into A’s fans.

As she tried to bring a fem­i­nine per­spec­tive to base­ball, she en­dured sex­ism, in­clud­ing the re­fusal of base­ball writ­ers to let her eat in the din­ing room at Fen­way Park in Bos­ton. She was also the sub­ject of head­lines like “A Break­through! Fin­ley Signs a Girl” and the fo­cus of fre­quent ref­er­ences to her blond hair and blue eyes.

The job did not last long. She worked only 15 games be­fore her con­tract ex­pired, and Fin­ley de­clined to re­new it. None­the­less, she en­joyed work­ing with her part­ners, Monte Moore and Ge­orge Bryson; briefly made more money than she had in the past; and was proud to have bro­ken into an ex­clu­sively male sportscast­ing bas­tion.

Bush­man died Sept. 3 in her con­do­minium in Kansas City, Mo. She was 89. Her son Craig said the cause was a stroke.

She moved to Chicago in 1960 and was hired to de­liver weather re­ports on WBKB­TV. She met Fin­ley, an in­sur­ance mag­nate based in Chicago, when he ap­peared on the sta­tion. When she left in 1964, Fin­ley sug­gested she join the A’s ra­dio team.

“I think we ac­com­plished what we set out to do, but I know we’d have done much bet­ter with more time,” she told the St. Joseph

News­press in De­cem­ber 1964.

In 2018 Bush­man, who later ran a travel agency and got in­volved in char­ity work, re­called Fin­ley’s boozy mid­dle ­of ­the-night calls to her.

“When he first hired me, he told me that he wanted me to wear Kelly green and that aw­ful yel­low,” she said, re­fer­ring to the gaudy color scheme he had in­tro­duced for the team’s uni­form. “And I said, ‘Your male broad­cast­ers wear that?’ And he said, ‘Well, of course not,’ and I said, ‘Nei­ther does your fe­male one.’ ”

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