Through Decades Of Determination, Kim Ng Makes MLB History As First Female GM
After more than 30 years of working her way up the ladder in Major League Baseball, Kim Ng finally shattered a glass ceiling that hadn’t been reached in major men’s professional sports.
In November 2020, Ng (pronounced ANG) became MLB’s highest-ranking woman in operations when the Miami Marlins made her general manager. She is the first woman hired to the GM position in MLB, NFL, NBA, and NHL history, as well as the first Asian-American GM in MLB history.
Ng’s appointment is a feat all women can applaud. The importance of her representation as a woman and Asian American can’t be overstated. She terminates the idea that sports leadership is only handed to men or to those who have played the game.
“After decades of determination, it is the honor 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.”
Ng was born in Indianapolis to a Chinese-American father and a Chinese-Thai mother, and her family moved to New York when she was young. Ng’s father introduced her to baseball as a kid and she grew up playing stickball on the streets of Queens.
“First base would be the red car on the right,” Ng said in a virtual news conference. “Second base was the manhole. Third base was the green car on the left, and another manhole for home. Those are great memories.”
Ng played varsity softball for four years at the University of Chicago where she primarily played shortstop and third base. Along with being team captain and MVP, she was also president of the Women’s Athletic Association during the 1989-1990 academic year. She majored in Public Policy where she fittingly wrote her senior thesis on Title IX.
Ng got her start with an internship for the Chicago White Sox before being hired full time by the club. She went on to become the team’s assistant director of baseball operations and eventually became the youngest person to win a salary arbitration case.
Former Dodgers GM Dan Evans interviewed Ng for the internship when he was an assistant GM for the White Sox.
“We interviewed a slew of people, and she just stood out. You could see a great future ahead of her when she was interning,” he told ESPN in 2010. Luckily, we had a really progressive staff in Chicago who weren’t afraid of gender barriers, which at that time were very firm. She wasn’t even there a full year before we hired her full time.”
Ng spent nine years as MLB’s senior vice president of baseball operations before being named GM. Along her way to the top, she had very impressive stints as an assistant GM for the Los Angeles Dodgers and the New York Yankees, winning three World Series with the latter. Marlins CEO Derek Jeter played for the Yankees when Ng worked for them.
“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 said in a statement.
Ng further helped eight teams to the playoffs while handling player contracts, arbitration hearings and valuations. During this time, she found the optimal answer between statistics and invaluables, realizing that data is only a measure of past performance and doesn’t necessarily show a player’s future. Her knowledge is extremely valuable in today’s baseball culture where there is a clash between data and intuition.
Ng’s hiring brings hope to all women working hard to advance their careers in sports management, but also a reminder of how much work still remains to increase diversity in MLB’s front offices.
At the time Ng was hired, she was just the fourth non-white person in charge of baseball operations, joining Ken Williams (White Sox), Farhan Zaidi (Giants) and Al Avila (Tigers); and only 19 of the 500 (4 percent) team-level vice presidents are women.
“I think this is the most noteworthy day for baseball since Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in 1947,” said Richard Lapchick, an expert on race and gender in sports at the University of Central Florida.
Ng’s hiring shouldn’t be shocking or outside the box though it was to the masses who are used to a historically male dominated league. She is a deeply qualified hire and had long been tied to GM openings, interviewing for the role at least six times. This was a long overdue opportunity.
GoodSport commends and congratulates Kim Ng. She is truly a role model for young girls and women. Thank you for your grit and determination.