Jan 12, 2022 - Sports

Yankees name Rachel Balkovec as 1st woman to manage minor league team

Hitting coach Rachel Balkovec of the Yankees looks on during the Florida Complex League (FCL) game between the FCL New York Yankees and FCL Detroit Tigers.
Hitting coach Rachel Balkovec looks on during the Florida Complex League (FCL) game between the FCL New York Yankees and FCL Detroit Tigers on July 9, 2021 at the Tigers Minor League Complex in Lakeland, FL. Photo: Joe Robbins/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Rachel Balkovec will become the first woman to lead a minor league baseball team after the New York Yankees this week named her manager of the Tampa Tarpons.

Driving the news: Balkovec, 34, will manage the Tarpons, the low Class A affiliate of the Yankees, for the 2022 season, which begins in April.

  • The Yankees hired Balkovec in November 2019 as a minor league hitting coach, when she became the first woman be named to that role in the history of professional baseball.
  • Before joining the Yankees, Balkovec spent three seasons with the Houston Astros organization, working as the strength and conditioning coach for Double-A Corpus Christi in 2018 and the Rookie-level GCL Astros in 2017.
  • Balkovec began her professional baseball career with the St. Louis Cardinals in 2012 as a minor league strength and conditioning coaching intern.

Between the lines: Balkovec said Wednesday she faced numerous rejections when applying for strength and conditioning jobs at the beginning of her career.

  • After multiple rejections, Balkovec, encouraged by her sister, briefly changed her name on her resume and applications from "Rachel" to "Rae," and she began getting calls back for job interviews, she said at a press conference.
  • Still, she would get rejected once officials realized she was a woman, she said.
  • "It was pretty short lived that I changed my name because at the end of the day, you just have to look yourself in the mirror and be like, well, you know, if they don't want to hire me because I'm a woman I probably don't want to work for those people," Balkovec said.

What she's saying: "I want to be a visible idea for young women. I want to be a visible idea for dads that that have daughters, I want to be out there," she said.

  • "I'm glad my path was difficult and it still serves me to this day, and so if you're feeling like you're not welcome or it's a difficult path, good. Try to look at yourself and go, 'this is going to be good for me in the future,' even if it doesn't feel good in the moment."
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