In 2003 Sports Illustrated ranked Kim Ng (pronounced Ang) at Number 38 in its list of the 101 Most Influential Minorities saying, “Write it down: Ng may become baseball’s first female GM.” On Friday the 13th, 17 years later, the Miami Marlins named Kim Ng, General Manager of their organization. Ng is the first woman GM in Major League Baseball’s 151-year history and the second person of Asian descent, following Farhan Zaidi, past Dodgers GM.
Ng’s road to the majors was a long time in the making. Many have said based on her experience she’s the most qualified first time GM ever. After graduating from the University of Chicago in ‘90 she joined the Chicago White Sox as an intern where she quickly rose to full-time analyst then becoming their assistant director of baseball operations. There she broke through the first barrier becoming the youngest person and first woman to present an arbitration case when she won Chicago their bid over pitcher Alex Fernandez’s salary.
In Ng’s 52 years (celebrated her birthday this Tuesday) she has spent 30 years in professional baseball including time in the front offices for the WhiteSox (‘90-’96), Yankees (‘98-’01), and Dodgers (‘02-’11), and then as Senior Vice President of baseball operations for MLB from ‘11 until now.
Chief Executive and part-owner, Derek Jeter commented that after speaking with Ng a few times it was evident that she was a “perfect fit.” Ng worked for the Yankees when Jeter played there and called him “fearless” as a player and now as an executive for making the decision to hire her.
In 2018, Harvard Business Review detailed that Asian Americans were the least likely group in the United States to be promoted to management. That same year, MLB earned a gender grade of “C” on its annual report card from the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sports. They received a “B” this year. Prior to Ng’s hire for the Marlins, only two other women in baseball’s history had made it to the level of assistant general manager.
Looking back Kim Ng has 3 world series rings, the ultimate symbol of victory in baseball. In these past few days she herself has become a symbol of victory and hope for women. In an interview Ng expressed times where she felt deflated after years of interview for GM positions, feeling as if she received the interviews simply to check a diversity box, but she did what you do in business and in sports: you work and push harder, continuing to take the interviews and get her name out there.
Even if Ng never got to be an MLB general manager, the former New York Yankees and Los Angeles Dodgers executive insisted that going through the interview process was crucial for future generations. "It wasn't about me, it was about others," she said. "It was about other owners who might give interviews to minorities and women. It was about the women behind me.” The ceiling is broken. It isn't just the women at the start of their careers, it's the little girls who can now look up to a woman in leadership knowing they can do it and don’t have to be the first one.
With 1000’s of congratulations coming, including stand out messages from tennis legend and childhood inspiration Billie Jean King, as well as first lady Michelle Obama, you hope this becomes business as usual - the right person hired for the job.
When we reached out to Odyssey Woman Michele Meyer-Shipp, Chief People & Culture Officer at Major League Baseball, she had this to say about Ng’s historic hiring: "I am so excited to see Kim take on the role of General Manager for the Marlins! She is an inspiration to professionals within and outside of our industry. She has always been a leader, and her formal ascension to her position brings our sport to an inflection point. We are committed to making further gains to improve the ranks of our game's leadership to be inclusive of underrepresented groups. We also must re-imagine the culture of baseball to ensure that limitations are only defined by personal goals and aspirations, and nothing more.”
The Marlins pride themselves on diversity and Ng comments that the organization has women in the various departments; scouting, analytics, medial, and that their COO is a woman, Caroline O’Connor. She believes with the diversity in their experience and their backgrounds they will achieve success not just in baseball operations but the business operations and looks forward to getting started.