Very few women have held coaching positions for organizations in Major League Baseball. As the NBA and the NFL make strides in hiring more women to fill coaching positions, MLB is a league that has fallen short.
Though the list is brief, the Chicago Cubs hired Rachel Folden as a hitting instructor and the New York Yankees hired Rachel Balckovec as a hitting coach for a minor league affiliate in 2020. These two women, among a few others, made history, but no woman held a full-time coaching position on a major league staff until the San Francisco Giants hired Alyssa Nakken.
Nakken, was hired by the team after working in the organization since 2014. Her and Mark Hallberg were named to Giants manager Gabe Kapler’s coaching staff as assistant coaches in January 2020. In an interview with Alex Pavlovic for NBC, Nakken said she was excited to continue working with the organization.
“I know the ins and outs and who to talk to,” Nakken said. “I’ve given blood, sweat and tears to this organization already, literally, and I’m so excited to continue that.”
Before Nakken worked for the organization, she played Division I softball at Sacramento State. At Sacramento, she was a three-time all-conference first baseman and won the conference’s Scholar-Athlete of the Year in 2012.
“As her coach, I knew early that she would blaze new trails and do something groundbreaking,” former Sacramento State softball head coach Kathy Strahan said in a statement. “Her positive energy, intellect, and a tremendous drive to succeed are an invaluable asset to the Giants players and organization.”
After earning a degree from Sacramento State, she joined the Giants organization as an intern in 2014. She worked her way through the team as a baseball operations intern and eventually oversaw the Giants health and wellness programs before assuming her full-time coaching position.
According to MLB.com, Balckovec was also interviewed for this position, but was hired by the Yankees. In a statement after the hiring of Nakken, Kapler said he was excited for her to join the team as a coach.
“In every organization, the environment affects performance, and baseball clubhouses are no different,” Kapler said in a statement. “That’s why in addition to assisting the rest of the coaching staff on the field, Mark and Alyssa will focus on fostering a clubhouse culture that promotes high performance through, among other attributes, a deep sense of collaboration and team.”
Nakken made history again during Spring Training 2.0 when Nakken became the first woman to coach in an on-field capacity. The historic event came during the late innings of an exhibition game against the Oakland Athletics.
“In terms of this setting, I love what I’m doing,” she told ESPN, “and I love this position that I’m in.”
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