‘It is a special day’: Kim Ng the first woman in US men’s sports history to become a general manager

The Miami Marlins have named Kim Ng as general manager, making her the first woman to hold such a position in Major League Baseball.

Ng became the MLB’s highest-ranking woman in baseball operations and, according to the Marlins, she is believed to be the first female GM in the four major North American professional sports leagues (MLB, NFL, NBA, NHL).

“After decades of determination, it is the honour of my career to lead the Miami Marlins,” Ng said in a statement.

“When I got into this business, it seemed unlikely a woman would lead a major league team, but I am dogged in the pursuit of my goals. My goal is now to bring championship baseball to Miami.”

Who is Kim Ng?

Ng won three World Series rings while spending 21 years in the front offices of the Chicago White Sox (1990-96), New York Yankees (1998-2001) and Los Angeles Dodgers (2002-11), and has spent the past nine years with MLB as a senior vice-president.

She started her baseball career as a White Sox intern and rose to become assistant director of baseball operations.

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She worked for the American League for one year and then joined the Yankees, becoming the youngest assistant general manager in MLB at 29, and only the second woman to attain that position with a major league club. She was the Dodgers’ vice-president and assistant general manager.

In Ng’s most recent job with Major League Baseball, she directed international baseball operations, working with the front offices of the major league clubs and many other baseball leagues and entities around the world.

She led a team that set policy for and enforced international signing rules, established MLB’s first system for registering international players for signing, managed protocols for signing international players, and negotiated agreements with international winter leagues.

Ng graduated from the University of Chicago, where she played softball and earned a degree in public policy.

She has also become the first Asian American GM in MLB history.

What is the role?

There have been plenty of women who have held high-ranking positions at executive level within US sporting franchises, but Ng’s position is different.

As general manager under chief executive Derek Jeter, Ng will be responsible for the on-field success of the Marlins, handling all trades, drafts, hirings and firings. Until now, no woman had been entrusted with such a role.

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Ng joins a long-suffering franchise that achieved surprising progress in year three of Jeter’s rebuilding effort, reaching the playoffs for the first time since 2003 and sweeping the Chicago Cubs in the wild-card round.

The Marlins were swept by the Atlanta Braves in the National League Division Series.

How has baseball reacted?

The hiring has been viewed as a landmark day for sport in the US, with congratulations flying in for Ng and the Marlines.

“I think this is the most noteworthy day for baseball since Jackie Robinson broke the colour barrier in 1947,” Richard Lapchick, an expert on race and gender in sports at the University of Central Florida, said.

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Jeter played for the Yankees when Ng worked for them.

“We look forward to Kim bringing a wealth of knowledge and championship-level experience to the Miami Marlins,” Jeter said in a statement.

“Her leadership of our baseball operations team will play a major role on our path toward sustained success. Additionally, her extensive work in expanding youth baseball and softball initiatives will enhance our efforts to grow the game among our local youth as we continue to make a positive impact on the South Florida community.”

Jeter became baseball’s first Black chief executive after his group bought the Marlins in 2017. He then hired Caroline O’Connor, who as senior vice-president is one of the highest-ranking women in professional sports.

MLB baseball commissioner Rob Manfred said the league was “thrilled with the appointment”.

“Kim’s appointment makes history in all of professional sports and sets a significant example for the millions of women and girls who love baseball and softball,” he said.

“The hard work, leadership, and record of achievement throughout her long career in the national pastime led to this outcome.”

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The Miami Dolphins’ Brian Flores, one of four head coaches of colour in the NFL, was another to applaud Ng’s hiring.

“It’s phenomenal. Anyone who thinks a woman can’t manage or coach or lead, I think, is silly. Kudos to the Marlins,” Flores said.

Marlins shortstop Miguel Rojas offered Ng a virtual fist bump on Twitter.

“I am proud of the Marlins for this hiring,” Rojas said in a statement. “It is a special day.”

ABC/Wires