Women Shatter Barriers Again, This Time in Major League Baseball: But We Need to Recognize the Milestone

Neville Bilimoria By Neville M. Bilimoria

Over the summer I wrote about historic milestones in diversity and inclusion that occurred in 2020 that could not be ignored.[i]  Well, now, I think it is important to focus on yet another milestone in diversity that we need to cherish, and that needs to garner more attention despite the other, many distractions in 2020.  After all, it has been too easy for us to wallow in the bad news of 2020, focusing mostly on the pandemic, racial and social injustice, and or even the fervor over the U.S. presidential campaigns earlier this year. 

But on November 13, 2020, shortly after the presidential election that saw Kamala Harris as the first Black and Indian woman Vice President of our country, we saw Kim Ng become the highest-ranking woman in baseball operations in Major League Baseball when she was hired as General Manager of the Miami Marlins.  Wow!

Ng (pronounced Ang) won three World Series rings while spending 21 years in the front offices of the Chicago White Sox (1990-96), the New York Yankees (1998-2001) and the Los Angeles Dodgers (2002-11). She spent the past nine years with Major League Baseball as a senior vice-president.  What is amazing about Ng is that she truly started at the bottom, and rose to the top:  Ng started her baseball career as a White Sox intern and rose to become assistant director of baseball operations, and now General Manager of the Marlins.

So not only did we have the first Black female fighter pilot and the first Black and Indian female vice president in 2020,[ii] but women now have also shattered yet another glass ceiling in, of all things, the male dominated sport of Major League Baseball.  Even though baseball, a sport, seems so far away as we are dealing with the pandemic and the social injustice struggles affecting our everyday lives, Ng’s accomplishment should not be buried or ignored.  We must recognize that this is quite a historic milestone for women, yet again, in 2020.

Sure we all want to forget about 2020, but we also cannot afford to forget about the advances women have made this year, and the significance of these milestones for women everywhere.  Some have compared Ng’s rise to general manager of a baseball team to Jackie Robinson’s legendary entry into Major League Baseball.  Yes, it is significant that a woman would break these job barriers, and, in this case, of all things, shattering the seemingly insurmountable barrier into the male dominated sport of Major League Baseball for the last 100 plus years!  Ng aptly said,

After decades of determination, it is the honour of my career to lead the Miami Marlins. . . 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.[iii]

I think of how my daughters must feel in their generation seeing these historic events for women unfold in 2020.  Perhaps one of the most pertinent quotes about Ng’s milestone achievement came from Brian Flores, Coach of the NFL’s Miami Dolphins who said, “Anyone who thinks a woman can’t manage or coach or lead, I think, is silly. Kudos to the Marlins.”[iv]  Young women across the country must be thinking, now more than ever, that women can do and be anything they put their hearts and minds to, despite the old traditions and status quo in our society.

After all, isn’t that the lesson from 2020, that we all need to break the status quo?  That we cannot sit idly by anymore and not value the diversity of our humankind, and the beauty and uniqueness that each human being has to offer by way of their gender, race, sexual orientation, disability, or ethnicity.  Perhaps the saving grace of 2020 will be that despite all of the turmoil in this dark year, history will look back on this year as the year of the woman, with shining reminders from our bright stars like Ng that give us all hope beyond 2020.

[i] Neville M. Bilimoria, “We Must Not Overlook Recent Historic Diversity Milestones,” DM Diversity & & Inclusion Blog, August 18, 2020:  https://blogs.duanemorris.com/diversityandinclusion/2020/08/18/we-must-not-overlook-recent-historic-diversity-milestones/

[ii] Id.

[iii] Steven Wine, “Miami Marlins make Kim Ng the 1st female GM in MLB history,” CBC-Radio, November 13, 2020:  https://www.cbc.ca/sports/baseball/mlb/miami-marlins-kim-ng-first-female-gm-mlb-history-1.5800807

[iv] Id.