The rising Miami Marlins made history this past week when they named long-time league executive Kim Ng their General Manager. It’s a watershed moment for the progression of women executives in male-dominated sports. She’s the first female GM in the four North American Sports. Also, the first person of East Asian descent to serve as general manager of an MLB franchise.
Ng is now the inspiration for millions of girls across the globe who have a love for baseball but lacked the encouragement, confidence, or belief that they had a place in men’s baseball.
In addition, she’s the highest-ranking woman executive in baseball, with a lengthy history of serving in the front office of prominent franchises and contributing to their playoff success. Her hire sheds a light on the handful of other women who have overcome tremendous odds to find a place in the executive hierarchy of pro baseball and enter waters previously unchartered by women in the game.
Most recently Ng served as Senior Vice President of baseball operations for MLB, a position where she’d report to former legendary Yankees manager Joe Torre, a man Ng became familiar with while serving as the assistant general manager for the Yankees during Torre’s tenure, going to 4 World Series together and winning three.
Marlins Principal Owner Bruce Sherman and CEO Derek Jeter acknowledge Ng’s wealth of knowledge and championship-level experience.
“Her leadership of our baseball operations will play a major role on our path to sustained success,” Jeter said. “Additionally, her extensive work in expanding youth baseball and softball initiatives will greatly enhance our efforts to grow the game among our local youth as we continue to make a positive impact on the South Florida community “
The Chosen One
Born and raised in Indianapolis, Indiana, Ng attended The University Of Chicago, graduating with a B.A. in public policy in 1990. She was also named softball MVP infielder.
After college, she began her baseball career as an intern with the Chicago White Sox. In 1991 she was then hired full-time as a special project analyst, before being promoted to Assistant Director Of Baseball Operations under then-White Sox GM Ron Schueler in 1995. Ng became the youngest person, and the first woman to present a salary arbitration case while she worked for the White Sox. The case was regarding pitcher Alex Fernandez and she won.
In 1997 she worked in the American League offices, where her title was Director of Waivers and Records, approving all transactions. Having built a highly respected business reputation in a short time, Ng was personally recruited by the juggernaut New York Yankees.
In March of 1998, Yankees GM Brian Cashman hired her as assistant general manager, making her the youngest in the majors at age 29, and one of four women (joining Elaine Weddingtom Steward and Raquel Ferreira of the archrival Boston Red Sox and Jean Alterman of the Yankees) to ever hold the position.
Ng’s astute business mind and understanding of how a team functions on all levels, helped the Yankees win 3 World Series Championships (1998, 1999, and 2000). The Yankees lost in Game 7 of the 2001 World Series to the Arizona Diamondbacks in the first “Fall Classic” to culminate in November due to the 9-11 terrorist attacks.
Following the 2001 season, she interviewed for the Los Angeles Dodgers vice president and general manager positions. The Dodgers could have made history on that day, but instead, LA hired Ned Colletti, who wisely kept Ng as his assistant. Ng had previously interviewed for GM positions with the Seattle Mariners, San Diego Padres, Anaheim Angels, and San Francisco Giants, but nobody wanted to be the team to break away from the old, outdated, oppressive guard and make history.
Derek Jeter is that person. As CEO and a minority owner of the Marlins, Jeter has already changed the culture on the field and in the front office. He retained Michael Hill as the Marlins’ president of baseball operations.
Hill started his front-office career with the Rays in 1995 as an assistant in the scouting and player development departments. He then joined the Rockies’ front office in 2000 as the club’s director of player development before joining the Marlins in ’02 as an assistant general manager. Hill worked his way up to GM by ’07, before becoming Miami’s president of baseball operations in ’13.
So, the Marlins have the only African American atop a baseball operations department and the only female GM to ever grace the game’s front offices.
Ng’s promotion is long overdue, but now that she has pioneered new opportunities for women in baseball, the ladies that follow will need to have shoes on at all times as they walk through this glass ceiling shattered by the first woman GM in MLB history.