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Kim Ng, “Who Me?”

Ng (feature w logo)

by Mark Jent

A groundbreaking moment occurred in baseball today as Kim Ng (pronounced Ang) was named the General Manager of the Miami Marlins. She becomes the first woman GM in baseball history, and it is believed that she is the first woman GM in North American sports history of the four major men’s sports leagues.

I met her once in Cincinnati in 2011 when she was Assistant GM for the Dodgers. As a collector of obtaining autographed Sports Illustrateds (SI), I had taken this May 2003 SI (as seen in the featured image) with me hoping to run into her. As a matter of fact, I believe I had taken it on several trips in the preceding years. The cover story is titled “101 Most Influential Minorities In Sports.” Ng was listed 38. There are many prominent names who are part of the story including Tiger Woods, Serena Williams, Michael Jordan, Shaq, Kobe Bryant, Magic Johnson, Hank Aaron and an 18 year old Lebron James guy who came in last at 101. (See full cover of the SI at end of this story.)

Back to my story. Before the game while the teams were warming up, I was on the third base line and I spotted her about 100 feet away walking towards the dugout. Having never met a stranger, I yelled out while pointing at my prized SI, “Kim, would you come sign please!”

She looked around as if to say “Who me?” Seeing that she was just the Assistant GM at the time, she seemed to be in a bit of disbelief that someone was wanting her autograph. She then went out of her way, walked over to me, kindly obliged and we had a nice conversation, including the fact that she hadn’t been asked to sign this SI cover very often. 

As she walked away people around me were perplexed at whose autograph I’d just obtained. My buddy Patrick laughed at the fact that I might have been the only person in the ballpark on the lookout for an autograph as obscure as Kim Ng. The way I looked at it, plenty of people probably had the likes of Tiger Woods’, Kobe Bryant’s or Serena Williams’ signatures on this SI, but how many people could claim they had a personalized autograph from Kim Ng! I was grateful and ecstatic. 

Left: my autographed SI cover.
Right: the Phil Knight description of Kim Ng coming in at number 38 out of 101 influential minorities in sports.

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Starting as an intern with the White Sox in 1990, Ng has had quite the journey the past three decades to achieve today’s long overdue appointment. Her resume is lengthy having spent six years with the White Sox, one year in the American League office and three years with the Yankees as assistant GM where she helped them win three World Series in 1998-2000. She then moved to the west coast where she spent a decade with the Dodgers until 2011 when was hired by Major League Baseball as senior vice president of baseball operations, which was her position until today.

Whereas this is most certainly a moment to celebrate a glass ceiling being shattered, many across the sport have been left to wonder why it took so long for it to happen. Ng has been a GM candidate numerous times over the past 17 years since this Sports Illustrated story was written, and was often the most qualified person on the list, yet she was continually passed over. With that said, kudos to Derek Jeter (owner) and the Marlins for breaking the barrier. In situations such as this, someone has to have the courage to go first and Jeter did just that.

In this Sports Illustrated story, Phil Knight’s description can now be seen as prophetic. “Write it down. Ng may become baseball’s first female GM.”

Although it took much longer than expected, he was right!

Congratulations to Kim for the well deserved appointment and for never giving up. Sometimes the persistence, determination and perseverance just takes 17 years to finally pay off.

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