Rachel Balkovec makes history as first female manager in affiliated professional baseball history

Yankees’ Rachel Balkovec makes history as first female manager in affiliated professional baseball history

The rise of women in baseball continues with another historic hire.

Rachel Balkovec is the new manager of the Tampa Tarpons, the Low-A affiliate of the New York Yankees. Her hire makes her the first female manager in affiliated professional baseball history.

Women have made serious in-roads in MLB over the last few years, including Kim Ng making history as both the first woman and first Asian-American to be hired as a major-league GM. There are currently several women coaches, including Alyssa Nakken (Giants), Rachel Folden (Cubs), and Bianca Smith, the first Black woman hired to coach in pro baseball (Red Sox).

Yankees’ Rachel Balkovec makes baseball history

But there’s still so much work to be done, and the replies to MLB’s tweet announcing Balkovec prove that. Instead of talking about how qualified (overqualified, really) she is, men are talking about her looks, the fact that she never played baseball (Buck Showalter, Brian Snitker, Joe Maddon, Earl Weaver, and Joe McCarthy never played in MLB, either), and just the plain fact that she’s a woman, and we women don’t belong in sports.

Let’s shut that nonsense down right now.

To say Balkovec is qualified for the role is an understatement. She was an NCAA Division I softball catcher, has not one, but two master’s degrees, and taught herself to be fluent in Spanish so she could connect better with her players. She’s been working with MLB teams since 2012; the St. Louis Cardinals were the first to hire her, followed by the Houston Astros, and for the last few years, the Yankees.

Yet with all of these qualifications – certainly more than most minor-league coaches and managers – it took her changing her name on her resumé from Rachel to the more ambiguous “Rae” to get responses from teams.

This is only the beginning for Balkovec and other women who will follow in her footsteps. It’s a safe bet to say you’ll see her in the majors soon enough.

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