Jenifer Langosch covers the St. Louis Cardinals for MLB.com, also known as The Official Website of Major League Baseball. She is one of its stars.
Langosch (call her Jen) had better be good. Not only is the St. Louis franchise among the most successful and storied in the game, it draws its support from a knowledgeable and passionate fan base. Already a seasoned journalist at 33, Langosch is a savvy, tireless reporter, respected by readers and peers, players, managers and team officials. Even after the Cards’ season ended in early October, she continued her daily work for another month as one of a few hand-picked staffers covering the playoffs, including the World Series.
But Langosch’s job is about to change, by her choice. She still loves baseball as she did while growing up in suburban Atlanta, sharing the sports pages and statistics with her father at the breakfast table, attending Braves games together, home and away, Now, another bonding experience awaits.
In March, the Cardinals will be in full spring training mode. Langosch typically would be there, too, in Jupiter, Fla., charting the club’s build toward a new season, writing about the promising rookie, the veteran looking to bounce back, the hot new trade acquisition. Instead, she will be more than a thousand miles away, home with her husband, Matt. Also in March, the couple is expecting their first child, a girl.
Langosch, who covered the Pittsburgh Pirates starting in 2007 before moving to St. Louis five years later, said she will return to work at the end of her three-month maternity leave. But, she added, her specific duties are unclear. What she does know is that her job will not include the type of daily beat reporting that has constituted her life’s professional work since joining MLB.com as an intern after graduation from the University of Missouri.
“The thing that’s making me consider other careers or other forms of journalism is the idea of being gone,” she said. “The idea that this job takes me away from home so many days out of the year . The idea of doing that, especially with a newborn but, really, with a child of any age, is no longer so appealing.”
Langosch is one of five women among the 30 MLB.com reporters assigned to a team (there also are two female columnists).
Each club plays 81 road games during the regular season, divided by series typically lasting three or four games. A road trip can be as short as two or three games or stretch into double-figures. She said she covers about 55 road games, but when you count spring training and the post-season it adds up to about 120 days on the road.
“It was great when you were 24, 25 years old, being single,” she said, “I didn’t mind being gone for long stretches at a time, but your priorities change. I wouldn’t say I’ve been worn down by the travel, but certainly it’s not as appealing an idea, to leave behind a family.”
Langosch’s husband (they were married in 2015 having survived several years of a long-distance relationship) works in marketing and public relations for the St. Louis Economic Development Partnership. He has always supported her work and her crazy schedule, Langosch said, but the family dynamic is about to undergo a seismic change.
“Everyone asks me what my job will look like or what I’m gonna do,” she said. “And the honest answer is, ‘I don’t know,’ until I understand what it’s like to have a baby at home.”
Langosch is immersed in not one but two highly-visible, male-dominated cultures, sports and media. Most of her observations regarding work and family involve men. Still, she said,
“I’ve seen too many marriages crumble because people are on the road for such long periods of time. And I’ve seen many of my colleagues miss out on momentous occasions or little milestones with their children. That’s just not something I want to let happen to me.”
Langosch emphasized that neither the grind of the road nor the long, odd hours (most work days last from early afternoon to after midnight) have a bearing on her decision. She is, in fact, an avid traveler outside of work, both for pleasure and humanitarian reasons. She spent two weeks in Pakistan in 2005 working with women and children, and assisted children at an orphanage in India in 2011. She continues to sponsor a child there.
As a frequent traveler, she said, “I’ve never really looked at my situation being that unique, female vs. male. Especially when you get on a plane Monday morning or Friday morning when there’s a lot of business travel and you look around and see you’re surrounded by men. I’m used to that in my profession anyway.”
Her airplane “survival tactic,” as she called it, is sleep. Not only does she need it, it wards off intrusion. She always try to get a window seat.
“I get on an airplane and I almost immediately fall asleep,” she said, acknowledging her good fortune. “Those two hours of sleep I can get are very necessary. . . .I also found, too, that if you strike up a conversation with a person – and it’s not that I don’t want to be personable – but if they ask you what you do, especially in St. louis, and you’re sitting next to a Cardinals fan, all of a sudden for the duration of the flight I’m stuck answering questions about the St. Louis Cardinals.”
Perhaps because of preventative measures, harassment has never been an issue on the road (she gets worse treatment, she said, on social media). Safety, however, is always a concern.
“I think about the idea that I’m done with work at midnight, 12:30 in the morning. I’m always very cognizant of my surroundings,” she said. “When I’m checking in they don’t announce where I’m staying things like that. I think I’m more hypersensitive to that than my male colleagues.”
Langosch won’t miss that part her job. She can manage just fine without the connection-gate sprints through O’Hare, and the very late and very early hours. What she will miss is the work, or at least the kind of work she has been doing for more than a decade. But something better will take its place.
“While I still have professional goals and I still intend to be a working mom,” she said, “the idea of traveling and sacrificing the home life is just not appealing.”
Thanks for spending time with us, Jen. What about you, Jane? Has the amount of business travel required by your career ever caused you to make a change? Tell us about it!
Journey On, Janes!