The national pastime is about to have a woman on top of a professional dugout.
Rachel Balkovec, previously a hitting coach in the New York Yankees‘ minor league organization, will be the next manager of the Low-A Tampa Tarpons, according to The Athletic’s Lindsey Adler. Per Baseball America’s JJ Cooper, Balkovec will be the first female manager in minor league history.
Sources: Rachel Balkovec, who joined the Yankees organization as a minor-league hitting coach in 2019, will serve as the manager for the Low A Tampa Tarpons next season.
— Lindsey Adler (@lindseyadler) January 9, 2022
Cooper notes that Jennie Finch and Justin Siegel have worked as guest managers in independent ball, but Balkovec is the first everyday manager.
Rachel Balkovec’s journey to history
The 34-year-old Balkovec’s coaching career goes back to 2012, when she started on a temporary contract as a strength and conditioning coach for a St. Louis Cardinals affiliate in the rookie ball Appalachian League, per the Seattle Times.
To make ends meet, the former Division I softball catcher worked as a waitress and at Lululemon while applying to coaching jobs.
Eventually, that temporary gig would turn into a full-time job two years later as the Cardinals affiliate’s strength and conditioning coordinator, already a first in pro baseball. In 2016, she moved to the Houston Astros as the team’s Latin America strength and conditioning coordinator, having learned Spanish to connect with players, then got another job as the Astros’ Double-A strength and conditioning coach.
Balkovec made headlines with the move to the Yankees in 2019, becoming the first woman to work as a full-time hitting coach in a major league organization. Now, she’s taking a next step.