The New York Yankees made the headlines this week after an exciting announcement.
They are promoting Rachel Balkovec from minor league hitting coach to manager of the Low-A Tampa Tarpons.
That way, Balkovec becomes the first female manager of a minor league affiliate.
Slowly, but surely, women are breaking barriers imposed by obsolete societies and are finding spaces in baseball (and the sports world in general) that always belonged to them.
Balkovec is 34 and joined the Yankees organization in 2019.
Her Background And Experience
She has softball roots, as she was a catcher at Creighton and New Mexico.
At the time, she was the first woman with a hitting coach gig in affiliated baseball.
She started working on MLB franchises at a young age: she was a minor league strength and conditioning coach in 2012 for the St. Louis Cardinals.
It has been a slow road from there, but the path has been traveled with determination.
She spent four years with the Cards and was later hired by the Houston Astros in 2016.
With the Astros, she was the Latin American strength and conditioning coordinator.
She learned Spanish virtually on her own, to be able to communicate with Latin players.
She was also the strength and conditioning coach at Double-A Corpus Christi.
In 2018, she was involved with the Netherlands’ national baseball and softball squads.
Then, she entered Driveline, a major baseball research and data center that serves as a training ground for many athletes.
In different interviews, she has said that she had to work “much more” than male counterparts to prove her worth and open barriers for herself.
She now views herself as a role model and knows there is a whole lot of responsibility with leading a baseball club.
“I want to be a visible idea for young women. I want to be a visible idea for dads who have daughters. I want to be out there. I have two jobs, and that’s fine,” she stated on Wednesday in her presentation via Zoom.
Tune in now to watch Rachel Balkovec introduced as the @TampaTarpons manager for the upcoming season. Balkovec will be the first full-time female manager in the history of affiliated baseball at the Major or Minor League levels. https://t.co/qNcljr3qnZ
— New York Yankees (@Yankees) January 12, 2022
Even MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred congratulated Balkovec upon being announced as the Tarpons manager.
Commissioner Rob Manfred has issued a statement congratulating Rachel Balkovec: pic.twitter.com/Ya7UPQPBOI
— Bryan Hoch (@BryanHoch) January 12, 2022
Balkovec also stated that one of her dreams is to manage an MLB team someday.
With hard work, perhaps she can fulfill that dream in a few years.
For now, the experience she can get from managing the Tarpons will be very valuable from every standpoint.
Some people have opposed the idea of a woman managing a male baseball team, but Balkovec doesn’t care: she is way too strong and determined to succeed that those comments don’t affect her.
She is now tasked with making history and finding success in her new role.
If she does, more and more women will follow her lead and look for opportunities in a historically sexist industry.
It’s time to break barriers and fight for fair opportunities for whoever deserve them, no matter the gender or orientation.
The Yankees are making the right move by giving Balkovec, who has been around baseball for more than a decade, the chance of proving her worth as a manager.
And thankfully, most of the baseball universe has welcomed her with open arms in her new role.