Ng’s story told at Hall of Fame

Part of the BASEBALL HISTORY series
Written by: Isabelle Minasian

The New York Yankees of the mid-to-late 1970s were a dynamic dynasty, powering to the postseason in 1976, 1977 and 1978 and taking home back-to-back World Series titles in the latter two seasons.

It was the start of the George Steinbrenner era and new renovations to Yankee Stadium; of the Bronx Zoo, Mr. October and Thurman Munson, all of it narrated by “The Scooter.”

They captivated millions, and Kim Ng was no different.

The new general manager of the Miami Marlins credits her father with encouraging her love of playing and watching sports, and her passion for baseball was fueled by those Yankee teams of the late 70s.

It’s a passion that wrote her name into the history books.

“I think the pace of the game and the nuance of the game were the things that really drew me to it,” Ng said in an interview with the University of Chicago.

When her family moved to Ridgewood, N.J., she joined the high school softball team and continued her athletic pursuits on the diamond at the University of Chicago. She wrote her senior thesis on Title IX and graduated with her Bachelor’s degree in public policy – and MVP honors for her infielding work. An internship with the Chicago White Sox after graduation was the first stop in what would become a barrier-breaking baseball career.

It was the dawn of the “Moneyball” era, and Chicago was on the cutting edge.

“Technology gave me a chance,” Ng said. “When I started with the White Sox, we were the first ones to use a program that could analyze pitches, track fly balls, stuff like that.”

The White Sox hired her on full time, for $20,000 a year, and in the next six years she rose from operating the radar gun and entering scouting reports to presenting arbitration cases as the Assistant Director of Baseball Operations. From there she moved to the American League, serving as their Director of Waivers and Records for a year.

She joined the Yankees in 1998, when Brian Cashman hired her as his assistant general manager. While Ng was at the helm, New York won back-to-back-to-back World Series titles during one of the most dominant stretches in the franchise’s storied history. She moved west in 2001, joining the Dodgers as vice president and assistant GM, a title she held for nearly a decade.

Many of Ng’s professional milestones and achievements have been groundbreaking moves for women in professional sports, reported on frequently with phrases like “the first,” “the only” or “the youngest.” First woman to present a salary arbitration case at the major league level with the White Sox in 1995; youngest assistant GM when she was hired by the Yankees in 1998; highest-ranking Asian-American woman in baseball when she became MLB’s senior vice president of baseball operations in 2011.

“I don't wake up in the morning and say `I'm a woman; it's going to be a real problem today,'" Ng told the New York Times in 2002. "It's not hard. It's not easy. It's just different than what guys experience."

As early as 2004, Ng has been lauded as the potential first female GM in Major League Baseball, but it took 16 more years before she could wade through the uncharted waters to finally reach that goal.

The Marlins announced she had been named their new general manager on Friday, Nov. 13, 2020.

“Her leadership of our baseball operations team will play a major role on our path toward sustained success,” said Marlins CEO and Hall of Famer Derek Jeter. “Additionally, her extensive work in expanding youth baseball and softball initiatives will enhance our efforts to grow the game among our local youth.”

Not only is she the first woman to serve as GM in MLB, she is also the first to do so for a professional men’s team in a major North American sport and the first Asian American to hold the role.

“This challenge is one I don’t take lightly,” Ng said in a statement after being hired as the Marlins GM. “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.”

In 2019, Ng and her family visited Cooperstown and the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, where Vice President of Exhibitions and Collections Erik Strohl, gave them a tour.

“After touring the Museum and archives, it was evident that Kim and her family had a deep appreciation for the history of the game and were excited to see what depths baseball is connected to American culture,” Strohl said. “It was also a personal thrill to meet her, as I was well aware of what she had accomplished in her trailblazing career. The example she has set for women and girls throughout the entire country is a special one.”

Ng has had a place in Diamond Dreams, the Museum’s celebration of women in baseball, for years but now the caption of her photo has been updated to reflect her new job:

In November 2020 the Miami Marlins named Kim Ng as the first female General Manager in major league history. With her unsurpassed baseball knowledge, Ng has already served as vice president for two teams and as an MLB senior executive.

Isabelle Minasian was the digital content specialist at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum

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Part of the BASEBALL HISTORY series