HERstory: Kim Ng Becomes the first women to be named General Manager of a MLB Franchise

Another hurdle towards gender equality has been put in the rear view mirror.

The Miami Marlins announced on Friday that Kim Ng will be their new general manager. Ng becomes the first female general manager in MLB history and the second person of Asian descent to run a team (Farhan Zaidi, president of baseball operations for the San Francisco Giants is the other).

Ng’s hire is long overdue, as was the gender barrier in the front office. Ng’s career in baseball began when she took an internship with the White Sox in 1990. She became an assistant general manager of the New York Yankees in 1998. She left to take the same job with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2001. She interviewed for a general manager position for the first time in 2005; the Dodgers went with Ned Colletti instead. It has been 15 years since Ng first attempted to become a general manager after seven years at the assistant general manager position.

It’s likely that Ng is the most overqualified person to ever become a first-time general manager in baseball. She brings 30 years of experience to the job, that’s 7 years more experience than I have been alive.

Ng’s journey to finally get the title as General Manager was just that, a journey. A long, winding and at times hopeless journey.

Interviewing for a GM role is labor-intensive and requires loads of research and a firm perspective to take to the organization to tell them how you can make them better. It was a tedious process each time for Ng. Ng did it over and over, at least four times that we know of with four different organizations before being hired by the Marlins.

Truth be told, the further away she got from her years as an assistant GM with the Yankees in the late 90’s and Dodgers in the early 2000’s, the less likely it seemed Ng would crack through the gender barrier. But she did.

The only question I have is why did it take Ng so long, so many years and interviews, to finally land a GM job?

There is always another explanation for sexism. Maybe Ng wasn’t the best candidate for each and every job she put herself out there for. Maybe her vision was all off. Or maybe she had to be heads and shoulders above every other candidate just to have a chance.

These are the things we’ll never know, but hiring practices in baseball are often bizarre. Everyone is looking for an “out-of-the-box” candidate. There have been many men hired in top executive roles who were not as experienced as Ng at the time of their hiring.

Imagine what it takes to put yourself out there for the same job over and over. Who interviews for the same job they’ve been publicly turned down for repeatedly over the span of 15 years?

It takes a special dedication and love for you to keep chasing your dream after almost two decades of being told no by multiple organizations.

Ng stands alone as the first female general manager now. It will be her name that makes headlines and is the answer to the trivia question and her name in the history books. It will be her pressure, her need to represent well for every woman within baseball. But she is not alone.

Ng, who is a trailblazer in the sport, isn’t the lone woman in the sport these days.

Jean Afterman is the Yankees Assistant General Manager, a role Ng held two decades ago. Raquel Ferreira is an executive VP and AGM with the Red Sox. The Baltimore Orioles hired Eve Rosenbaum last winter as their director of baseball operations.

Three female coaches — Alyssa Naken, Rachel Balkovec, Rachel Folden — were hired last winter.

Female presence in MLB isn’t limited there either. Across the league we see female beat writers, clubhouse reporters, and announcers. Just here locally in New York we have Suzyn Waldman, a trailblazer in her own right, calling Yankees games on WFAN Radio since 2005.

When Waldman received word that Kim Ng was about to make history as the first woman general manager in baseball, she had to confirm the news herself. She sent a text message to a friend in the Marlins organization that said, “Please, please tell me this is real.”

The two-word reply meant everything to Waldman: “It’s happening.”

“And I’ve just been crying,” said Waldman, who has made history countless times in her decades-long journalism career. “Because of who she is and what this means. I wasn’t sure I was still going to be around to see it. It’s taken a longer time than I’d thought, and I knew it was going to take the right person doing the hiring for the right person.”

The pure joy and emotions of Waldman hearing the news of Ng knocking down that gender barrier is a sentiment shared across the sport. Each woman in and around the game knows how important it is each time one of them take a next step.

The old adage is that if you can see it, you can be it. For 15 years, Ng put herself out for jobs where there was no woman to which she could look for a blueprint. She is responsible not just for herself and her own success, but for the perception of women in highly powerful baseball roles.

The unfortunate reality for woman particularly in sports, is that they always have to work a little harder, a little longer, just to be seen.

Kim Ng has done the work. Long after she became deserving of an opportunity to lead a major-league organization, the work has paid off.

Here’s too wishing Ng the best hoping she has just as long and successful career as a GM, as she had in here 30 years prior working in front offices.

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