The San Francisco Giants have made a number of unpopular decisions this offseason, but hiring Alyssa Nakken to the coaching staff is a historic move.
In 2020, Alyssa Nakken will become the first full-time female coach in Major League Baseball history, and the San Francisco Giants newest addition is part of a growing trend in Bay Area sports.
That said, Nakken is not necessarily the first, and will not be the last, woman to impact the San Francisco Giants organization.
Sue Burns, along with her husband Harmon Burns, are credited with keeping the Giants in San Francisco following the team’s sale in 1992. Burns was a business woman and philanthropist who became the principal owner of the Giants after her husband passed away in 2006.
She died in 2009, but was a frequent presence among Giants players and coaching staff both at home and on the road. She was often referred to as a team mom, and former Giants manager Bruce Bochy appreciated her support, telling reporters: “She was there every day. She loved her boys. She was proud of them.”
Burns had a major influence on the Giants, and a growing number of women are making an impact across Bay Area sports.
Despite becoming the first female coach on the baseball side of things, Nakken joins Katie Sowers of the San Francisco 49ers and Chelsea Lane of the Golden State Warriors as part of a growing trend of female coaches and personnel in professional sports.
Nakken is being brought on as an assistant coach, and will focus on creating a clubhouse culture that promotes high performance through collaboration and teamwork. She will be joined by Mark Hallberg in this endeavor, but her role will also include on-field coaching and instruction as well.
New San Francisco Giants manager Gabe Kapler has assembled an intriguing coaching staff with limited experience, but the knowledge and communication skills to convey current baseball philosophies to players. His staff will focus largely on development.
Kapler has sought unique and diverse voices in building his staff. Nakken becomes the first female addition to a Major League coaching staff, but the Giants manager interviewed Rachel Balkovec as well. Balkovec went on to join the New York Yankees organization as a minor league hitting instructor.
Similar to Nakken, Katie Sowers is paving the way for women in football. She is serving as an assistant coach on the San Francisco 49ers coaching staff.
Unlike Nakken and Sowers, Chelsea Lane’s work with the Warriors oftentimes went unnoticed, but she was frequently referred to as their “secret weapon.”
It is evident that women are beginning to impact professional sports in a meaningful way, and the hire of Nakken by the Giants is just the most recent example of this trend.