Major League Baseball’s first woman to coach in an on-field capacity took to the red clay during a San Francisco Giants exhibition game on Monday.
Alyssa Nakken became the first woman to coach on the field during an MLB game. She joined the Giants in 2014 as a baseball operations intern but currently oversees developing, producing and directing the organization’s health and wellness initiatives including coordinating the Giant Race series.
The Giant Race Series is a half-marathon race series across four separate West Coast cities that ends at the local MLB ballpark. This year’s race was moved to a virtual event.
Before Nakken’s hire in January, Rachel Balkovec and Rachel Holden were hired in November as hitting coaches for the New York Yankees and Chicago Cubs respectively.
In 2012, Balkovec became the first woman to be hired for an MLB coaching staff. She was a part-time strength and conditioning coach with the St. Louis Cardinals. She told CBS News earlier this year she had to lie about her name on applications just to be considered. She would put “Rae” down as her name instead of “Rachel” so that she could get a legit shot at coaching opportunities.
“I applied to eight to 10 jobs and it just was, like, crickets,” she told CBS in March. “I never felt anger. Necessary frustration and not understanding and ‘Give me a chance,’ like those were words that came. But not like, anger,” she said. “That was a lesson of, like, ‘Okay, look, if they’re not gonna hire me because I’m a woman, I don’t wanna work for them anyway.”
Nakken, like the other two women in coaching positions, had her sights on playing professional softball. The Giants emphasized Nakken’s hire will “focus on fostering a clubhouse culture that promotes high performance through, among other attributes, a deep sense of collaboration and team.”
Before joining the Giants, Nakken served as the chief information officer for the University of San Francisco baseball team. She played first base for the Sacramento State Hornets for four seasons and was a three-time all-conference selection.