Kim Ng and the Miami Marlins made history on Thursday, when the latter hired the former to be the first female general manager of a major North American men’s sport.
It’s been a long time coming. Back in 2018, Shannon Ryan of the Chicago Tribune wrote about Ng’s experience with the White Sox, which started in 1990 as an intern, shifted to full-time work in 1991, and rose to the club’s assistant director of baseball operations in 1995.
Further promotions happened elsewhere. She became an assistant GM for the Yankees in 1998, and then for the Dodgers during Dan Evans’ tenure as GM in 2001 through 2004 (Evans had hired Ng back in 1990 with the White Sox, and raved about the news to Ken Rosenthal).
What’s amazing is that only covers the first half of her career, which means she’ll join the Marlins as potentially the most experienced first-time GM in baseball history. The latter 15 years wasn’t for a lack of qualifications — it was the lack of an owner or team president with conviction to give it a shot, or to treat her as an equal if it didn’t work out.
She was passed over for Ned Colletti after Evans was fired in 2005, supposedly because Frank McCourt lacked the nerve to fire her if things went poorly.
While I was reporting for my book on the Dodgers era under Frank McCourt, well-placed sources told me that McCourt had wanted to hire Ng, not only because she was qualified but also because he (rightly) thought being the first owner to hire a female general manager would bring the franchise good publicity. But since he was a man obsessed with publicity, he also worried about the backlash that would come with being the guy to fire the first female general manager. (The sheer nature of the cutthroat business leads to high turnover of GMs, even talented ones).
McCourt wasn’t alone. She interviewed with the other Los Angeles team, along with the the Mariners, Giants, Angels, Padres and Orioles. No opportunities materialized, so she decided to take a job with the league, although she maintained that she wanted a GM job above all else.
Now she’s finally getting a chance. On one hand, it shouldn’t be a big deal because it’s not some crazy idea, given her résumé. But it’s undoubtedly huge, just because she’s a tangible example to women, and to Asian-Americans as well. Representation shows what’s possible, and nobody can act like we’re past it when it has just been broached.
The hope is that she fares well enough to show that she should’ve been given a chance a long time ago. The greater hope is that she won’t have to be a success to inspire front offices to give chances to qualified “baseball people” who haven’t resembled the typical “baseball man.”
Jen Mac Ramos suffered life-threatening injuries after getting hit by a drunk driver last winter, so they have little tolerance for the White Sox hiring Tony La Russa, especially with the complete lack of consideration and care the White Sox have shown for the crime for which La Russa is accused. Bob Nightengale’s disgraceful appearance on the White Sox Talk podcast is the worst example, to such an extent that Chuck Garfien pretended as though the episode didn’t exist, and only resurfaced when José Abreu won the MVP and changed the subject.
If I have a qualm, I don’t see any issue with White Sox fans mocking La Russa and his “Hall of Famer baseball person” quote, because public mockery is one of the few recourses fans have when their front office is oriented to insulate and appease its chairman.
I appreciated the way James Fegan summed up the road ahead for the White Sox, as long as that road involves La Russa:
In the wake of his DUI arrest and charges, how La Russa will manage the White Sox is a secondary question to whether he can be trusted to not put himself and others in danger with his drinking. The notion of La Russa addressing his new team in February at Camelback Ranch is a prospective scenario that imagines a world where the White Sox have navigated addressing their new manager’s transgressions to a rightfully aggrieved fan base, and where COVID-19 has taken some sort of turn away from its current status of being worse than ever. Assuming all of that, the arrest should be a bolded line item on the agenda of topics La Russa will need to tackle while undertaking the always arduous task of building trust and respect with a new team.
There have been some White Sox Twitter murmurs about Springer, which makes Jay Jaffe’s summary of his market — and the contract predictions — a little more relevant than usual. Tim Dierkes had sent Springer to the Sox in MLB Trade Rumors’ free agent predictions, although his contract (five years, $125 million) is higher than other projections.
Will Savage, a 16th-round draft pick of the Detroit Tigers who topped out in A-ball, wrote a fantastic op-ed describing the blow dealt to the minor-league cities and towns that end up being among the 42 that Major League Baseball aims to cut. And man, it’s really unfortunate that the lack of a minor-league season meant that they didn’t even get a proper chance to say goodbye.
My former home of Troy, N.Y., is the centerpiece of a story that wonders how cities that have built their rebounds around public events can withstand a long winter of isolation.
But with temperatures dropping and a long upstate winter looming, Lockrow wonders what will become of Troy if the human connections — the casual conversations, the bustling farmers market — don’t return in the spring. “The richness of our little downtown is about our people,” she says. Even if some businesses can survive with online sales and takeout orders, that doesn’t make up for the street life lost along the way.
“How sad would it be if people were just looking out their windows, tapping on their computers and ordering food in?”
(Photo by Larry Goren/Icon Sportswire)
I wonder if she were White Sox GM would Ng cave in and agree to a LaRussa hire. Doesn’t seem like she would. Unlike Hahn, she seems more confident in her ability to find work elsewhere. Hate to bring up LaRussa again. That’s a done deal. It will make a great movie someday, the story of the crusty drunk driving old manager leading a team of outspoken and bat-flipping youngsters to the Series title, bringing tears of joy from the billionaire owner who has finally redeemed himself from the pain of a 34-year regret. Who could resist such a movie? South Side Story
Hahn and Williams have survived as long as they have because they will cave to Jerry. Anybody wanting complete autonomy who would push back would have been fired years ago.
That movie was already made. It was called “A League of Their Own”
Great for her, I hope she exceeds.
Barack Obama mentioned on CBS This Morning being involved in the politics of our country was similar to steering a cruise ship and not a speedboat (he wished things moved faster). With that in mind, the racial equality equivalency is Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn floating on their homemade raft down the Mississippi and then across the Gulf of Mexico eventually down the Amazon River.
I thought Kim Ng was a great hire given her extensive front office experience across multiple organizations and championship teams.
How many other women have significant front office experience in the MLB? Are there several others waiting in the wings or was she a unique case?
She’s rare, but not unique. Raquel Ferreira has 20 years of experience with the Red Sox, and Jean Afterman is coming up on 20 years with the Yankees. In the podcast discussion, Asinwreck highlighted a few others who stand out, many in baseball ops, scouting and player development.
It’s a bit harder — at least when it comes to googling — to find women using their law degrees or MBAs on baseball, getting involved in the contract negotiation parts, which is kinda where GMs come from. If there is a shortage, and it’s not just me being unaware, that’s where having somebody like Ng in a high-profile job helps.