Before Jackie Robinson took the field for the Brooklyn Dodgers on April 15, 1947, Major League Baseball was a game played exclusively by white guys. Robinson, an African-American, broke the color barrier and changed the course of history.
Now comes Kim Ng, hired by the Miami Marlins as the first female general manager in Major League Baseball. Her ascent, too, is truly historic. Not only is she the first woman to run an MLB front office, she’s the first woman to serve as general manager in any major men’s professional sports league in North America.
The news has rightly been treated as a ground-breaking, glass-ceiling-shattering event, similar in its own way to what Robinson achieved. Until there was a Black man playing big league ball, young African-Americans who loved the game had no role model. No matter their talents, their determination, their dreams of a career in the majors would, it seemed clear, always be deferred.
Same, too, with young girls or young women who imagined running a team.
Just as Major League Baseball, on the field, has two distinct periods — before Jackie Robinson, and after Jackie Robinson — MLB, at the top of the front office, will be thought of similarly — before Kim Ng, and after Kim Ng.
The arc of her baseball operations career, in brief: She began 30 years ago as an intern with the Chicago White Sox at just 21, worked her way up in that organization, served as assistant general manager for both the New York Yankees and the Los Angeles Dodgers, and worked most recently as assistant vice president for MLB. During her time as assistant GM with the Yankees, the Bronx Bombers won three straight world championships.
One could reasonably argue that a man with a similarly sterling baseball resume would have been hired as someone’s general manager quite some time ago now. Those teams that had the chance, yet passed, may likely spend some time regretting their failure to knock down the gender barrier.
Marlins CEO and part owner Derek Jeter, who was Yankee superstar shortstop for two decades, including during Ng’s time as assistant general manager, noted her “wealth of knowledge and championship-level experience” as reasons for hiring her to run the Marlins’ front office.
For other talented women in baseball operations, suddenly, the sky is the limit.
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