(Reuters) – As she sat on a stool at home plate in Miami Marlins Park on Monday a message flashed onto the giant jumbotron behind the first woman general manager of a Major League Baseball team, “Welcome Kim Ng”.
Ng meanwhile had a message of her own: “Anything is possible. That’s my message, anything is possible,” said the 51-year-old trailblazer.
Indeed, but it has taken time.
Thirty years after starting out as an intern for the Chicago White Sox, through assistant general manager stints with the New York Yankees and Los Angeles Dodgers and nearly a decade at MLB headquarters as senior vice president of baseball operations, Ng finally shattered another of the sport’s glass ceilings last Friday by securing the top job with the Marlins.
Overseeing all aspects of the Marlins operation from budgets to player contracts, Ng joins a rebuilding team that were one of MLB’s biggest surprise stories this year as they made the playoffs for the first time since 2003.
“I fought hard for this,” Ng, who interviewed unsuccessfully for general manager jobs with the San Francisco Giants, Anaheim Angels, Seattle Mariners and San Diego Padres, said at her introductory news conference on Monday.
“There were times when I thought maybe the interview wasn’t on the up and up. But I will say that just by having my name out there was a source of hope for people so you do it because you just know you have to keep your name out there.
“It wasn’t about me it, it was about others. It was about other owners who might give interviews to minorities and women. It was about the women behind me, the women starting out in baseball. All sports.”
Growing up in New York, Ng’s passion for the U.S. national pastime is rooted in her youth playing stick ball in the streets then onto softball at the University of Chicago, where she earned a degree in public policy.
But it was also clear early on that the fearless Asian-American was going to follow her own path.
“In terms of my fearlessness I don’t know where it comes from but I can tell I can remember it from when I was in high school,” said Ng, fielding questions with the confidence of a Hall of Fame shortstop.
“I was not the kid that was always going to follow with the rest of the group. That was not me. I was going to do my own thing. I didn’t care what other people said, I was going to do it.
“High school, college, my professional career it’s just knowing what you want to do and doing it and not worrying what anyone else says,” she added.
(Reporting by Steve Keating in Toronto; Editing by Ken Ferris)