By JOE FRISARO, Courtesy of Major League Baseball
MIAMI.–The Marlins have pledged to build as diverse an organization as possible. On Friday morning, they made history by announcing Kim Ng as their new general manager.
Ng is the first woman to become an MLB general manager. She is also believed to be the first woman hired as a GM by any major professional men’s team in North American sports.
“All of us at Major League Baseball are thrilled for Kim and the opportunity she has earned with the Marlins,” MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said in a statement. “Kim’s appointment makes history in all of professional sports and sets a significant example for the millions of women and girls who love baseball and softball. The hard work, leadership, and record of achievement throughout her long career in the national pastime led to this outcome, and we wish Kim all the best as she begins her career with the Marlins.”
Ng, who turns 52 on Tuesday, has an extensive background as an executive. She has more than 30 years of experience in Major League Baseball, including 21 in the front offices of the White Sox (1990-96), Yankees (1998-2001) and Dodgers (2002-11).
With the title of general manager, Ng (pronounced ANG) becomes the highest-ranking woman in baseball operations in the Majors. She also is the fifth person to hold the general manager title in Marlins history.
Ng is also the second person of Asian descent to lead an MLB team, following Farhan Zaidi, the former Los Angeles Dodgers GM and current president of baseball operations for the Giants.
“On behalf of principal owner Bruce Sherman and our entire ownership group, we look forward to Kim bringing a wealth of knowledge and championship-level experience to the Miami Marlins,” Chief Executive Officer Derek Jeter said in a statement. “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.”
The Marlins began the reshaping of their baseball operations department after parting ways with Michael Hill as president of baseball operations on Oct. 18.
“I entered Major League Baseball as an intern and, after decades of determination, it is the honor of my career to lead the Miami Marlins as their next general manager,” Ng said in a statement. “We are building for the long term in South Florida, developing a forward-thinking, collaborative, creative baseball operation made up of incredibly talented and dedicated staff who have, over the last few years, laid a great foundation for success.”
Ng said she understood it was a monumental day for women in sports. She just never imagined the scope of support would create such an outpouring of responses from all walks of society from around the world.
“The idea that it has affected this many people is just extraordinary,” Ng said on Monday, when the Marlins introduced her. “I thought it would be a big deal, but this is beyond my expectations — and I think beyond many peoples’ expectations. But I think that really is a testament to where we are. People are looking for hope. People are looking for inspiration. I’m happy that this is a part of it.”
The hiring has opened MLB’s door into the top ranks of the front office. That alone prompted an overwhelming amount of responses in society and through social media.
The “Who’s Who” list of her public endorsements includes Michelle Obama, Sharon Robinson (daughter of Jackie Robinson), Billie Jean King and Warren Moon.
“As the day unfolded, I was able to zoom out a little bit and realize just what was going on and just how much impact this was having over social media,” Ng said. “It really became about me being able to share the moment with so many.”
By her estimation, congratulatory texts and e-mails surpassed 1,000 within the first 72 hours of the announcement.
“Anybody who knows me knows that I have spent countless hours advocating for young girls, advocating for young women and really trying to help them advance their careers,” Ng said. “That’s something that is so important to me. Now having this high-profile position, where you’re out in public more … there is an adage: ‘You can’t be it, if you can’t see it.’ I guess I would suggest to them, now you can see it.”
Hill, who is African American and Cuban, had served in that capacity since the end of the 2013 season, and he had been an executive with the Marlins since 2002, including being promoted to GM in ‘07. Hill recently interviewed for the Mets’ open GM position.
The Marlins’ decision-making landscape has changed since the ownership group headed by Sherman and Jeter took over after the 2017 season.
Many voices are involved in the process, and the Marlins weren’t looking for someone necessarily to make the final call. Ng will oversee the department and work in unison with Jeter, vice president of baseball operations and scouting Gary Denbo, as well as the pro, amateur and international departments.
A graduate of the University of Chicago, Ng broke into baseball as an intern with the White Sox in 1990, later advancing to assistant director of baseball operations. She then became the Yankees’ assistant general manager from 1998-2001.
In nine years with the Dodgers as vice president and assistant general manager, Ng had input in all player transactions, trades and free-agent signings. Her duties also oversaw the club’s arbitration efforts, pro scouting, medical and video departments. In 2004, she served as the club’s interim farm director.
Ng steps into an envious situation with the Marlins, who have a sturdy foundation in place on the path toward building sustainable success. Miami was MLB’s biggest surprise story in 2020, reaching the postseason after finishing with a 57-105 record in 2019.
The Marlins went 31-29 in the 60-game regular season, their first winning season since 2009. They made the playoffs for the first time since ‘03.
After eliminating the National League Central champion Cubs in two games in the NL Wild Card Series, the Marlins’ magical season ended in the NL Division Series, where they were swept in three games by the NL East champion Braves.
“This challenge is one I don’t take lightly,” Ng said. “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. I am both humbled and eager to continue building the winning culture our fans expect and deserve.”