In September 1973, Melissa was at Sports Illustrated as a researcher/reporter, a fancy title for what was Time Inc.'s job of fact checking stories.Since she'd arrived after freelancing at ABC Sports, her first assigned beat was as the reporter on SI's weekly TV/Radio column. Within a year or so she was reporting and writing TV/Radio columns, including "Fancy Figures vs. Plain Facts, for which she won the prestigious Newswomen's Club of New York Front Page Award. In childhood her mother influenced her love of baseball and so at Sports Illustrated she volunteered to research baseball stories and in 1976 the magazine assigned her to the Major League Baseball beat; she was the only woman assigned full-time to cover that sport. During baseball's off-season, she covered the National Basketball Association, and she wrote numerous stories about these sports and others. She reported and wrote the feature story, "The Despot and Diplomat," which appeared in SI's 1979 spring baseball issue. When she went to Time, she became one two lead reporters on the 1984 Summer Olympics, where she wrote its cover story when track and field star Carl Lewis won four gold medals. Melissa still weighs in with essays about sports, with her particular focus on women in sports media.
40 years on: Ludtke v Kuhn helped change the face of sports coverage forever, GlobalSport Matters, August 2018
Being a woman – OK, the only woman – reporting baseball full time in the mid-1970s, I dressed with gender in mind. My ballpark outfits were feminine frocks with flattening bodices, puffy sleeves and hints of lace accentuating flowery prints. The full skirts of my Laura Ashley dresses fell discreetly below my knees so when I was talking with managers in dugouts I crossed my legs with impunity.
Forty years ago today, on what was the first night of the 1977 World Series, Major League Baseball commissioner Bowie Kuhn forbid me from reporting in the teams' locker rooms...
Catchers and home-plate umpires are almost certainly the oddest of all sport's odd couples. Crouching and sweating together beneath layers of padding and suffering like bruises from foul tips and curves in the dirt...
As he began his pursuit of history and Jesse Owens with the 100-meter gold medal last Saturday, Carl Lewis, 23, also took time off on the most intense eight days of his life to talk with Time’s Melissa Ludtke.
Fancy Figures vs. Plain Facts, Sports Illustrated,1978
Do the networks want women sportscasters in the Phyllis George mold – that is, beautiful, effervescent women who don’t know zilch about sports – or do they want them to be as knowledgable as the better men sportscasters?