Known for her gifted storytelling abilities, skill at mentoring and
infectious sense of humor, Ms. McAnally was one of the first female
reporters to be allowed into the locker room of professional sports
teams in her reporting for KQED, National Public Radio and many other
She had an unusual level of access to the San Francisco 49ers and
the Oakland A's, especially in the 1980s during the 49ers' triumphal
years of Joe Montana and Bill Walsh. At the time she began reporting
on sports, female correspondents tended to be assigned to peripheral
roles, such as providing "color" from the stands.
She was in the press box at Candlestick Park awaiting Game 3 of
the 1989 World Series when the Loma Prieta earthquake struck. As
the stands swayed, a reporter from the New York Daily News who had
never experienced an earthquake said, "What the hell was
that?" Ms. McAnally responded quickly and calmly, "A
whole lot of people just died." According to friend and
colleague Laurie Garrett, "that shut the reporter up, who was
upset that the game was being delayed."
Her sports reporting extended beyond Bay Area teams. One season
she noticed that the Dominican Republic had produced more
major-league baseball players than any single state in the
United States. So in 1998 she traveled to the Dominican Republic
and reported how a love of baseball there was inculcated
literally from birth on. She described that it was traditional
for uncles to give a newborn baby boy a baseball mitt. Other
relatives would chip in with a bat and ball to round out the
She also made major contributions in her reporting on health
and science issues. She produced several segments in "The
DNA Files," an NPR series that won a George Foster
Peabody Award, an Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Award
and several other honors.
She was born and raised in Pittsburgh, attended Penn State,
and moved to California with her family in the early 1970s.
Her radio career started by happenstance when she
volunteered at KPFA in Berkeley to pay off a parking ticket.
She stayed on, eventually becoming co-director of the
station's public affairs department.
She also became co-anchor of California Public Radio, a
state-funded broadcast on radio stations throughout
California. It went off the air when then-Gov. George
Deukmejian pulled funding for the program.
She was among those who lost their homes in the Oakland
hills fire of 1991. Gone in the flames was her entire
radio archive. She last lived in Benicia.
She is survived by her brother, Gerald, of Benicia.
Contributions in her memory can be made to
Tony La Russa's Animal Rescue Foundation,
2890 Mitchell Drive, Walnut Creek, CA 94598.