Let’s take a moment to describe an incredible candidate for an MLB General Manager position. This person was an MVP for their college ball club, before becoming an intern with the Chicago White Sox, who then hired them full time as a special projects analyst. From there, they were promoted to being the Assistant Director of Baseball Operations at the age of 27. They were the youngest person to ever present and win an arbitration case for a team. After that they were responsible for approving all AL transactions as the Director of Waivers and Records.
Starting to sound pretty promising right? Let’s add more, though. At the age of 29, this candidate was the Assistant GM of the Yankees (the youngest AGM in MLB history). They then went on to become the Assistant GM and Vice President of the Los Angeles Dodgers. After being passed over for five General Manager openings, they went on to become the Senior Vice President of Baseball Operations for MLB.
This candidate I’ve described should, by now, feel like an absolute no-brainer hire for any MLB club with an open position for a General Manager. Experience, know-how, plenty of hands on history with multiple teams starting right out of university. So why has it taken until 2020 for them to get a job?
Because the person I’m describing is Kim Ng, and she just became the first female GM in MLB history.
Ng has been a groundbreaking individual since she first joined an MLB team full-time in 1991. She has interviewed previously for open GM positions with the Dodgers, Mariners, Padres, Angels and most recently the Giants, being passed over for a male candidate each time.
This week, as the Marlins teased a new GM hire, they referred to their selection as “outside the box.” With the announcement of Ng’s hire on Friday, there was a response of excitement, as Ng made history, but also consternation at the idea of her being an “outside the box” hire. The only thing unusual about her hire, compared to other choices for the role, is her gender.
If one were to re-read the description above, it’s of a remarkably gifted and perfectly suited candidate, someone who is long overdue for the job, having more than paid their dues across the platform. To call her hire “outside the box” may be true, to an extent, if we consider that the “box” is the limited vision of MLB teams to resist hiring competent women for jobs. It’s the kind of phrasing that can rankle women in sports, who fight tooth and nail to be recognized as equally capable of performing high-level jobs in baseball.
Ng’s hire is another step in the right direction of the Marlins rebuild, as the team just made their way into the extended postseason, and saw manager Don Mattingly win the NL Manager of the Year award for his efforts in turning the team around.
Moreso, it’s another step we’re seeing in women breaking into MLB roles that involve direct interaction with players. Earlier in 2020, the San Francisco Giants made history when Alyssa Nakken became the first female coach to work full-time for an MLB team and work on the field with players.
Regardless of how accurate the concept of “outside the box” is here, this is a hire that has been a long time coming, and is an exciting move for the Marlins, for MLB, and for female sports fans who finally get to see the first woman, and also the first Asian-American, to become the General Manager of an MLB team.
This is the kind of good news we needed in 2020.