Kim Ng became the first female general manager of a Major League Baseball (MLB) team when the Miami Marlins hired her on Nov. 13. With 30 years of experience and six League Championships, she is one of the most overqualified individuals to ever be hired as a general manager. Her accomplishment garnered a tremendous amount of attention, both in and out of the baseball world, largely because it resonated with many groups of people.
Ng’s hiring is a victory, because front offices are not designed to allow people who are not white men to rise to powerful positions—or even enter the building in the first place. Another woman, another person of colour, has broken a glass ceiling in an industry dominated by white men. As an Asian-American woman, especially one that loves baseball, thinking about Ng fills me with so many emotions: I feel proud, inspired, represented, worthy, and powerful.
The league, teams, and other baseball-affiliated individuals and organizations should absolutely celebrate Ng and her historic achievement. Baseball social media accounts like MLB and the Marlins team posted a stream of quotes, artwork, and videos about Ng in the last week, and she more than deserves the attention. However, it was frustrating to see organizations make these posts without recognizing that they themselves play a historic role in keeping people like Ng out of baseball. Since the beginning of baseball, they have built and continued to uphold a culture that makes it challenging for minorities to be hired in positions of power. By failing to acknowledge this, these organizations are doing a disservice to her and every person she has inspired along the way.
2020 has been the year of performative actions for MLB. The Black Lives Matter protests in May and June reopened conversations on discrimination against Black people within baseball; MLB took part in these conversations reluctantly. On Opening Weekend, opposing teams held a long piece of black fabric, a seemingly performative gesture highlighting the league’s inadequate efforts to support its Black players. Even with COVID-19, MLB failed to make genuine efforts. They paid for ads and campaigns to show appreciation for frontline healthcare workers, urging fans to take the pandemic seriously. However, when it came down to their bottom line, the league was all too willing to throw their respect and gratitude out the window and invited 11,388 fans into Globe Life Field to cheer—and breathe—together.
So when organizations posted Kim Ng quotes and images on their social media accounts, I also want to know what concrete actions they are going to take next. I want to know how, from the top down, they are making systemic changes to public messaging, hiring, and combating internal racism and sexism. I want to know how they are going to make sure the next Asian-American woman doesn’t have to be as overqualified or wait as long as Ng did to get the job they earned. I want to know what they are doing to ensure that men like Brandon Taubman are not welcome in baseball.
The best way for baseball to honour and celebrate Ng is to uproot the deeply ingrained culture of sexism and racism in the sport and finally live up to the ideal that baseball is for everyone. This responsibility does not rest solely on the Marlins, MLB, or any other single organization. The response from major league organizations to Ng’s historic achievement cannot simply be articles and tweets about how “awesome” she is. It is in spite of MLB that Ng rose through the ranks and was finally hired as a general manager. Her grit, hard work, and intelligence is remarkable; however, she is not the only woman who has ever possessed these qualities. I’m so excited that Kim Ng is finally getting her shot. I just hope that many more will soon get theirs too.