Connor Smith is a junior news journalism major. His views do not necessarily reflect those of the newspaper. Write to Connor at email@example.com.
This past Friday, Nov. 13, the Miami Marlins made history.
Six days after Kamala Harris became the first woman elected as vice president of the United States, the Marlins shattered baseball’s glass ceiling by hiring Kim Ng as their fourth general manager in franchise history. According to the team, Ng is believed to become the first-ever female general manager of any franchise in the four North American major professional sports leagues.
Ng heads to a team with Major League Baseball’s first-ever African American president, Derek Jeter, and another high-ranking female official in Caroline O’Connor — the team’s chief operating officer. This is a long-overdue move, showing that while the MLB is traditionally a male-dominated industry, it is possible to break barriers when opportunities arise.
This is not a publicity stunt. This is a baseball hire, and Ng has the qualifications for the role.
An Indianapolis native and a 1990 graduate of the University of Chicago, Ng began her baseball career as an intern with the Chicago White Sox in 1990 before the organization hired her full time the following year. She then worked as an assistant general manager for the New York Yankees from 1998-01 and the Los Angeles Dodgers from 2002-11. For the past nine years, she has worked as senior vice president of baseball operations for the MLB.
Forbes ranked Ng No. 13 on its list of most influential minorities in sports in 2015 and No. 5 on its list of most powerful women in sports.
While Ng has a wealth of experience, it’s worth noting she has been rejected for other general manager roles. The Seattle Mariners, San Diego Padres, San Francisco Giants and Los Angeles Angels have all previously interviewed Ng.
However, Ng’s résumé — which features three consecutive World Series while working for the Yankees from 1998-00 — shows gender is simply irrelevant compared to experience.
Last year, a group of women who work in the MLB created a private group chat to celebrate diversity and the accomplishments of women who work full time throughout the league. From 2016-19, Renée Tirado worked as the league’s first female chief officer. Furthermore, Alyssa Nakken made history this past July, working for the San Francisco Giants as the first female coach on a team staff in league history.
These moves, along with Ng’s hiring, are steps in the right direction toward achieving gender diversity across the MLB. For Ng, her role as general manager is significant, and she is breaking the odds.
In baseball (and many sports), general managers run the show — from drafting players, recruiting free agents and making trades. Scouts and coaches might have some input, but general managers often have the final say.
As the league’s lone female general manager, baseball fans will inevitably put Ng under greater — or possibly, less — scrutiny, simply because of her gender. Having worked in the league for 30 years now, this shouldn’t be the case. Whether fans realize it or not, Ng is more than qualified for the job.
In fact, a Sports Illustrated cover story from 2003 ranked Ng No. 38 on its list of the 101 Most Influential Minorities in Sports. The magazine wrote, “Write it down: Ng may become baseball’s first female GM.”
Although the MLB offseason is fewer than three weeks old, there have been a handful of front office shifts the past few weeks. The White Sox hired four-time Manager of the Year Tony La Russa Oct. 29, while the Boston Red Sox re-hired Alex Cora Nov. 6, despite his involvement in the team's 2018 sign-stealing scandal. That said, Ng’s hiring provides a breath of fresh air, giving hope to young women across the country who want to break into professional sports.
Aside from her managerial duties, Ng is in a good spot, too. She takes the helm of a team that made the postseason for the first time since 2003, led by young talent in third baseman Brian Anderson, as well as pitchers Sandy Alcantara, Sixto Sanchez and Pablo Lopez.
Because of her time spent on the White Sox, Yankees and Dodgers, Ng is more than prepared to run the show in South Florida. Her hiring is a step forward for the MLB and its push toward diversity.