The Miami Marlins set baseball aflutter with their momentous hiring of Kim Ng as their general manager. Accolades have poured in for Ng, who becomes the first woman and the first Asian-American to hold the position of GM. Those diminishing the gravity of this hire have been appropriately shouted down, like the Athletic’s Britt Ghiroli does via Twitter here, but on the whole, the response has been overwhelmingly positive.
The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal goes back to Ng’s beginnings in baseball, speaking with former big-league exec Dan Evans, who hired her as an intern when she was 21 years old. From her first time leading an arbitration hearing, to her recruitment by the league offices, to Evans’ hiring of Ng for a second time, the former Dodgers’ GM speaks glowingly of Ng and her readiness to take on the leadership of a ballclub. Said Evans (per Rosenthal):
Part of the reason she’s going to be great is because perseverance is one of her stronger character assets. It’s going to allow her to recognize that maybe it didn’t happen in the speed she would have liked. But has there ever been a more qualified person on the first day on the job? I can’t remember one.
“The Marlins didn’t hire her as a woman. They hired her because she’s the most qualified person for the job. In my mind, she has been a number of times. The ownership groups who interviewed her just weren’t ready for whatever reason. I’m thrilled about what the Marlins did. As the father of a couple of daughters, I always want that person who is going to shatter a ceiling to be ready for the opportunity, because there is enormous pressure to be that first person. She doesn’t have the ability to fail in some areas that a guy would. There is going to be far more attention. She’s not only ready, but she has been ready. They hired the best and most qualified person who also happens to be the first female general manager. It’s a great statement for the game and the progression of our society.”
MLB.com’s Anne Rogers provides a number of reactions to Ng’s hiring. In terms of the importance this hiring has for the league and for women, Rachel Balkovec, a Yankees Minor League hitting coach said this (per Rogers):
It changes the conversation from, ‘Oh it’s never been done,’ to, ‘Oh, well, Kim’s doing it so you can do it. With Jeter, I think that’s important, too, because it’s like, ‘Well, if he can make that decision, somebody who has that much respect in the game, anybody can make the decision.’ It changes the conversation and the idea that people have about what a GM looks like. The importance really just can’t be overstated.”
Jeter’s relationship with Ng goes back to her time as an assistant GM with the Yankees from 1998 until 2001. That Jeter knows Ng so well goes a long way in instilling confidence in her abilities to steer the Marlins in the right direction. The presumption of skepticism, to be clear, has everything to do with the usual skepticism that goes with being a new GM. For Jeter and for those who know Ng, however, there isn’t a hint of doubt that she was the right hire.
Ng is described by those who worked for her as an attentive, gracious, and measured leader. For example, she got players with the Dodgers to call Evans to thank him when they clinched a division title, even though Evans had been fired before the start of the season, writes Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times. That kind of attention and compassion goes a long way in a business requiring cold calculations that dispatch players to-and-fro without their say-so.
For all the affirmations of her character, Ng was hired because the Marlins believe she’s the right person to bring a championship back to Miami. That, too, is Ng’s goal. Per MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro, Ng says:
This challenge is one I don’t take lightly. 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.”