Rylee Pay Finding Voice, Sharing Stories Of Red Sox Future

Rylee Pay grew up in the Las Vegas area with admiration for play-by-play broadcasters such as Melanie Newman with the Baltimore Orioles, envisioning a path for herself in baseball. Now, she’s finding her own future within the Boston Red Sox organization.

Pay enters her second season as a broadcast assistant with the Portland Sea Dogs, Boston’s Double-A affiliate, alongside director of broadcasting Emma Tiedemann. When Pay joined the booth for the 2023 season, the duo formed just the second all-female broadcast team in professional baseball.

The passion that sparked such a career started with fandom for the Orioles and a genuine passion for the sport.

“I knew around high school and definitely in college that I wanted to work in sports,” Pay told NESN.com recently. “Baseball was always the sports that clicked for me and that I felt immersed in when I watched. I would watch games with my dad and pick of the brain of my grandpa. He had a massive card collection and a scorebook that became my favorite pieces of his house. I just always loved it. I always wanted to be at a baseball field. Whenever we had family trips, it was always on my list to check off a stadium.”

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Pay’s love for baseball continued as she entered college, attending her hometown school at the University of Nevada Las Vegas. After taking business classes to start her collegiate career, something just didn’t feel right.

“In college, I started out as a business major,” Pay reflected. “I always kind of thought in the back of my mind that I wanted to do broadcasting and had a love of public speaking.”

The passion to be around baseball ultimately led her to seek new opportunities. Pay pursued a new direction on the journalism side, immersing herself in work with the UNLV athletics department. She offered help in a variety of roles, from working as the PA announcer for the baseball program to creating graphics and sending posts for social media. Her work around UNLV certainly caught the attention of a key mentor in her career.

“Brilliance from the jump,” Molly Sullivan, a former reporter for the Philadelphia Eagles and Philadelphia 76ers and now a journalism professor at UNLV, told NESN.com recently. “In fact, Rylee was my first recruit as a professor leading the sports broadcasting concentration for the school. Her story on UNLV baseball was airing while I was helping the anchors and producers during our morning news TV broadcast. Her voice is elite but it was Rylee’s ability to find purpose with each and every word that hooked me instantly and I certainly wasn’t alone. This was not a traditional college student’s package.”

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Her baseball path continued to the summer ball universe, completing internships in the Northwoods League as well as the Cape Cod Baseball League. During that 2022 summer in Massachusetts, Pay dove into a new realm of broadcasting with the Cotuit Kettleers: having the call of innings as a play-by-play broadcaster.

“That’s where the play-by-play began,” Pay said. “I initially went there knowing I would host pregame shows and provide commentary within the broadcast. Then, early in the season, my broadcast partners challenged me to do play-by-play on the spot. They believed in me and my knowledge of the game.”

As the Kettleers continued their season on an eventual playoff run, Pay gained experience and found a sense of trust that she could have a future on this baseball avenue.

“It kind of opened my eyes to what play-by-play could be,” Pay shared. “It’s always been the most challenging thing for me and I always loved it. Every day is something different and you can’t predict what’s going to happen on the field. It’s the extra edge of the unknown. The ability to get better every day is something I’ve always loved about play-by-play.”

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That summer with Cotuit proved to her that she was capable of making the jump to a professional booth. Despite still finishing her senior year at UNLV, Pay began searching for opportunities in minor league baseball. One opportunity stood out from the rest: calling games with Tiedemann in Portland.

“I didn’t want to wait a whole extra season to get started in professional baseball,” Pay recalled. “I started applying for a couple different positions while I was still in school. I was familiar with Emma and how she called games. I really loved what she did. I followed her on Twitter and saw a position posted a few weeks later, so I applied.”

Tiedemann and Pay clicked during the interview process, eventually leading to the job offer that created the current pairing for Sea Dogs broadcasts. Pay was officially on the track to professional baseball with an exciting chance to grow her skills.

“I was excited for the opportunity to work with her more than anything,” Pay shared. “That was another thing that was really appealing about the Portland job in particular. The opportunity to learn from somebody that has already been in those shoes. She knows what it’s like and knows the ropes. I knew it wasn’t an opportunity you see every day. She’s a great baseball mind.”

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With the baseball season starting in April, Pay went coast-to-coast from Nevada from Maine just weeks before graduation. Even with the early start, Sullivan knew just how ready Pay would be.

“Every time she stepped inside the Hank Greenspun School of Journalism and Media Studies, she made everyone around her better,” Sullivan shared. “Outside the building, from the first time I joined her in the field, it was clear that Rylee has what it takes to broadcast at a national level. She knows the game, the players, the storylines — a lot of people do. But what separates her is relentless studying, her authentic nature and a fight for the truth at every level to bring the story justice. She cares about people and it shows in her broadcasting.”

As the veteran of the broadcast team, Tiedemann embraced Pay’s path to Portland in a new experience for her career.

2023 NESN Clubhouse interview with Sophia O’Brien

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“It’s the best,” Tiedemann told “NESN Clubhouse” in an interview during the 2023 season. “This is my 10th season in baseball, which is crazy to say. In those 10 years, I’ve never had a female partner. It’s really special coming to work every day, knowing that I’ll be able to see Rylee and interact with (young women) who can now see themselves in these roles. There’s a handful of women who have been in my shoes and in my seat before. It’s extra special knowing that there’s now a new generation of women that are knocking on the door wanting to be broadcasters.”

Just as she imagined from when she was hired, Pay credited Tiedeman for being an ideal mentor during his first season of professional baseball, with guidance both on-air and in the daily hustle of life in the minor leagues.

“Throughout 138 games, you learn so much,” Pay added. “She’s taught me so much about broadcasting and the nuances of the day-to-day with all that goes into the minor league lifestyle. It’s definitely a bit different from college and summer ball. With her as a person, she’s awesome. I can’t say enough about her. … She’s been a great mentor, teacher and friend.”

Getting the chance to broadcast minor league baseball as a first job out of college seems extraordinary enough. For Pay, the quality of talent on the field only enriched the experience. Over the last five years, the Red Sox have turned around one of the weaker farm systems in the sport to a now-deep organization stocked with true talent among position players. Throughout the 2023 season, Pay had the call of Boston’s future core with prospects such as Marcelo Mayer, Roman Anthony, Kyle Teel and Ceddanne Rafaela among others. That excitement will return in 2024 with most of the minor league core getting more time in Portland.

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“Every day is thrilling to watch,” Pay said. “It’s really high-quality baseball. It’s exciting coming in to this year too. The team was super talented across the board last year. You got to see them at different phases but it will be exciting to see them all on the field at the same time at this level as a glimpse into a future big-league lineup.”

Pay added: “You can see it in the way they play on the field with the chemistry that they already have. It’s in their interviews off the field as well. That sense of comradery is what I think makes this group special. There’s plenty for Red Sox fans to be excited about.”

In their time together, Pay and Tiedemann have embraced their opportunity to be role models for girls and young women who love the game. After a win over the Reading Fightin Phils last June at Hadlock Field, Pay and Tiedemann passed out extra baseballs to girls in the stands, giving them a lasting memory of what the sports can mean for them.

“As long as you love something and have a passion for it, go for it 110%,” Tiedemann shared in the “NESN Clubhouse” interview. “In this industry, there’s now tons of space for everyone who wants to be involved in baseball. There’s room for everyone at the table. If you love it, go for it.”

“There’s been little girls at different internships along with here in Portland that have made me bracelets, wrote notes and even asked me questions about the game,” Pay said. “Things like that are so sweet and always puts into perspective how important this is for them. I think it goes a long way just to see it. I’ve been fortunate to see women working in these positions so it never seemed unattainable.”

Pay has traveled across the nation for her baseball goals and will continue that path to wherever the sport will take her in the future, finding her way on-air while inspiring another generation.

“The brilliance I first saw in her reporting is nothing compared to who she is as a human being,” Sullivan said. “… It’s bigger than sports. Rylee Pay is a star.”

As the next wave of Red Sox talent develops in Portland, Pay and Tiedemann will be the voices of the future.

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