In 2013, there had never been a full-time female coach in one of the big four American professional sports leagues.
When Becky Hammon joined the San Antonio Spurs in 2014 as the first full-time female assistant coach in NBA history, she broke ground as the first in any of the four major American professional sports. The NFL came next when, in 2018, Kathryn Smith joined the Buffalo Bills as a special teams assistant. Dawn Braid was added to the Phoenix Coyotes as a full-time skating coach a year later, adding the NHL to the list. And now, Major League Baseball has finally completed the circuit with Thursday’s hire.
Alyssa Nakken, who first joined the team as an intern in 2014, was brought on board as the first full-time female coach in MLB history. Though Justine Siegal, formerly a coach for the Athletics, had worked with a Major League team as early as 2015 in a coaching capacity, it was not in a full-time role and was with the instructional team.
Siegal was quick to show support to the trailblazing Nakken on Twitter:
Nakken, a graduate of Sacramento State, was added by new manager Gape Kapler, who was brought in, among many reasons, to advance the team and utilize his modern managerial slant to help the team progress. President of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi pointed toward this quality when welcoming Kapler aboard, stating that they wanted to find someone to “build strong relationships” and “[get] the best out of the people around him.”
Kapler echoed the sentiment expressed by Zaidi with a similar message when explaining his decision to bring Nakken and Mark Hallberg onto the team:
There was some doubt as to how the move to replace longtime manager Bruce Bochy would be popularly received, but Kapler's decision to hire Nakken has seen a lot of praise across the social media landscape and the MLB community.
With a disappointing 2019 season by both the Giants (77-85) and Kapler (81-81 with the Phillies), there is a lot of work in store. But Kapler is immediately making an impact and taking the franchise in his preferred direction, and that’s a big first step.