Less than a week ago, Kamala Harris stood before the nation as the country’s vice president-elect.
“While I may be the first woman in this office, I will not be the last,” she said proudly as the first woman and the first woman of color to hold one of the highest positions in the U.S. government. “Because every little girl watching tonight sees that this is a country of possibilities.”
Now, another glass ceiling has been shattered as the Miami Marlins have tapped Kim Ng to be their next general manager.
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Believed to be the first woman hired as a GM in U.S. men’s major professional sports, it’s a move long overdue for Ng, who has spent 30-plus years in baseball. It’s also a move long overdue for women who put in the work. Ng is also the first Asian-American to serve in a general manager capacity.
I remember hearing about Ng way back in the late ’90s when I was in college and she was hired to be a part of the New York Yankees front office as an assistant GM — right around the time I saw Brian Cashman at Shea Stadium before a Subway Series game and asked for an internship. The Yankees GM stopped, turned around and told me who to contact. Cashman sees past gender — Jean Afterman is the Yankees’ AGM today — but, obviously, he’s isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, so New York was never going to be the place for Ng to break more barriers.
So, like any good New York baseball person, she then moved west to the Dodgers and was a candidate for their GM job in 2005. But she didn’t get the gig and left many of us figuring that it’ll never happen, because she came with an impressive resume along with being in the club’s front office since 2002. Ned Colletti got the job instead and it should be noted that the long-time baseball man was hired last year by the Sharks — yes, the NHL team — as a scout. Still scratching the noggin on that one, as he has zero hockey experience.
In 2011, Ng left LA and went to work for in the Commissioner’s Office for MLB, working with ex-Yankees and Dodgers skipper Joe Torre.
“She’s very well prepared in whatever she does,” Torre said in 2018 about Ng, when she was up for the Mets GM job — which instead went to Brodie Van Wagenen, who had zero front office experience outside of sitting on the other side of the table as an agent and has since been fired. “She’s way over my head when it comes to all the knowledge she has about a lot of aspects about the game.
“She’s very bright. She knows her baseball. And she’s, how do you put it? I don’t want to say sure of herself, but she’s very bright and a very brave woman. She knows baseball and she doesn’t hedge on stuff. She attacks things head-on. That’s the best way to put it.”
Damn right she’s brave as a woman in sports. But it’s also a bummer that he had to reiterate that “she knows her baseball.” Of course she does. She’s been in the business and around the sport her entire adult life. It just shouldn’t need to be said when it’s something so obvious.
At the time I remember thinking the move to NYC wasn’t the best step for someone who could be the one to break the glass ceiling. And after being disappointed that she did not get the Mets job in 2018, I began to wonder whether it was time for someone else to take up the torch — there are a few women, such as Raquel Ferreira (Red Sox) and Eve Rosenbaum (Orioles) working in high-level baseball jobs. But when would their time come? Would there be an opportunity?
Ng was the best one to take the lead: She had the experience, the know-how and the proven track record. Respectfully, Marlins, she’s overqualified and you know it.
Friday the 13th may have bad-ju-ju vibes, and this year is most definitely a dumpster fire. But now, Nov. 13, 2020, is a great day. A groundbreaking day. It’s a day that shows that hard work pays off. It’s a time when women are becoming stronger, are finding their voices and saying, “Yes, we can.” Because guess what: We can do anything. Representation matters.
When I first heard about Ng, I too wanted to be a GM, but in hockey. I wrote letters to all 26 general managers asking for insight into the position, their path to the job and advice on how to get where they were. Nine wrote back.
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While the majority of them were insightful and positive, the one that continues to stand out to this day is the response that said “he” throughout — strongly hinting it’s a role only a man could do. FYI: That’s not true, and now it’s been proven.
Women can do it.
The saying “if you can see it, you can be it” is incredibly true. Ng broke a massive glass ceiling within sports and she’ll not only inspire women of her generation and little girls today but also those in future generations. Because if she can do it, so can they — just hopefully without waiting decades.
On Nov. 13, 2020, Kim Ng became the first woman hired as a GM for a major men’s professional sports league in the United States. She will not be the last.