The Marlins announced on Friday morning that Kim Ng, formerly the senior vice president of baseball operations for Major League Baseball, will become the organization’s new general manager. Ng is the first female and first Asian-American GM in MLB history and is believed to be the first female GM among the four major North American sports leagues.
Ng began her baseball executive career in 1990 as an intern with the Chicago White Sox. The White Sox promoted her to full-time in ‘91. She was promoted to assistant director of baseball operations in 1995 and shortly thereafter became the first woman to present a salary arbitration case in MLB history. Ng then worked for the American League office in 1997 as the director of waivers and records. In ’98, Ng joined the Yankees as the assistant GM under Brian Cashman and remained with the team through 2001. The Dodgers recruited Ng in ’02 as the VP and assistant GM.
Ng interviewed for the vacant GM position with the Dodgers in 2005 but the organization went with Ned Colletti instead. She stuck with the Dodgers through 2011. After the 2011 season, the MLB commissioner’s office hired Ng to become the senior VP of baseball ops, a position she held until today. She interviewed many times for vacant GM/baseball ops positions elsewhere with the Mariners, Padres, Angels, and Giants. The Mariners went with Jack Zduriencik over Ng in 2008. The Padres went with Jed Hoyer over Ng in ‘09. The Angels went with Jerry DiPoto over Ng in ‘11. The Giants went with Farhan Zaidi over Ng in ’18.
Needless to say, Ng getting a prominent public-facing front office position with a team has been a long time coming. Ng was deserving in 2005 and she’s even more deserving now.
To its credit, MLB has gotten better about diversity lately. Giants assistant coach Alyssa Nakken became the first full-time female coach in MLB history and earlier this year became the first female to serve as a coach on-field in a game. Ng and Nakken aside, MLB has a long way to go. The league is very much still a club of old white men (see: La Russa, Tony), and front offices are still overwhelmingly white and male.
From a moral standpoint, it is simply right to have diverse hiring practices, which MLB largely still does not. However, even from a business standpoint, it behooves organizations to have “diversity of thought,” which is achieved by bringing in different kinds of people rather than cisgender straight white men who attended Ivy League colleges.
The Marlins are on the rise, as evidenced by their 31-29, second-place finish this past season. They ended a 17-year playoff drought, though were sadly swept out of the NLDS by the Braves. They have an exciting young corps of players including Brian Anderson, Jorge Alfaro, Sixto Sánchez, Sandy Alcantara, Pablo López, Braxton Garrett, and Jazz Chisholm. The Marlins also still have one of the league’s best minor league systems, earning a No. 5 ranking from MLB.com two months ago. Now Ng will finally get her well-deserved chance to put her personal touch on a major league franchise from one of the highest perches.