Giants’ Alyssa Nakken coaches first regular-season game as a mom with baby daughter at the ballpark – Metro US

Giants’ Alyssa Nakken coaches first regular-season game as a mom with baby daughter at the ballpark

Giants Coaching Mom Baseball
San Francisco Giants assistant coach Alyssa Nakken, left, poses for photos with her husband, Robert, and their daughter, Austyn, before a baseball game between the Giants and the San Diego Padres in San Francisco, Friday, April 5, 2024. (AP Photo/Janie McCauley)

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Alyssa Nakken stole a quick moment to make an important pregame stop ahead of San Francisco’s home opener: The assistant coach ducked into the family room not far from the Giants clubhouse to check on her baby daughter and husband.

Already dressed in her cream-colored No. 92 uniform, Nakken gave her girl a tender kiss on the right cheek and carefully placed noise-canceling headphones over her tiny ears, making sure they were exactly right for 11-week-old daughter Austyn, born three weeks early on Jan. 22.

The first full-time female coach in major league history, Nakken isn’t yet traveling full-time on manager Bob Melvin’s staff. The Nakkens are learning on the fly together how to navigate this challenging, daunting, thrilling and unprecedented new normal that is life of a major-league coaching mom and how that balance might look over the coming months and even years.

Not too long after visiting her baby, there was Nakken with hands in the pockets of her black Giants jacket, standing on the top step of the dugout with a big smile.

“I feel nothing but support from everybody,” she said. “I’m very grateful, definitely count my blessings with that every single day. And so as more women get into coaching and want to have families, I will be there every step of the way to talk through ways that I navigated it and am navigating it. I’m learning something every single day. It’s something my husband and I say all the time, let’s just take everything day by day. She’s in control right now, our daughter, so that’s priority No. 1. It’s been really fun, it just feels very right.”

It’s Robert Nakken who is now taking on much of the load behind the scenes during these early days of parenthood — at least on game days. His wife noted “he’s also a trailblazer in this.”

“I’m definitely a proud husband and also a new, proud dad,” Robert Nakken said. “It’s a beautiful time to experience the journey with Alyssa and our family is very proud and we’re excited to support her in this journey that is really the first journey for a coach in this realm. So it’s going to be a little different, it’s going to be a little hard and that’s what makes it great.”

Robert Nakken hopes he and his wife can provide an example for future women to become professional baseball coaches while realizing they can also be parents.

“I think it’s something that can happen, we want to happen more and more and hopefully we can lay the groundwork for other women, because we want to have more babies, that’s for sure,” Robert Nakken said, Austyn cradled in his arms sporting her own pint-sized Giants jersey. “If someone else that’s a female wants to pursue this career that they’ll be supported and have outlets, especially when they become a mother.”

Alyssa Nakken received huge applause when introduced during pregame festivities at Oracle Park. The 33-year-old Nakken, a former softball star at Sacramento State, announced last season she was expecting her first child.

Just more than six weeks after giving birth, she and her family made a brief March visit to spring training in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Austyn has received gifts from Nike, too. Robert Nakken posted photos from the stands on a sunny Bay Area day before the series opener against San Diego. It was also against the Padres in April 2022 when Nakken became the first woman to coach on the field in a regular-season game when she took over at first base during a 13-2 win after Antoan Richardson was ejected.

“I got to know her some in the offseason and certainly saw her from the other side. We’ll support what she’s going through right now. This is much more important than baseball,” Melvin said following the Giants’ 3-2 win. “She is a big part of this team, and she’s been here longer than I have as a coach, so we’ll continue to support what she’s having to do. Her and her husband are going through a lot right now, kind of switching roles a little bit but it’s really cool to see and she’s got a place on this staff always.”

Not to mention the respect of players. Outfielder Mike Yastrzemski returned from paternity leave this week after he and wife Paige welcomed their second child, and he admires how Robert Nakken is embracing his family’s child-care needs.

“It’s incredible what he’s able to do and how confidently he can do it,” Yastrzemski said. “It’s not easy to be a new dad and he’s making light work of it, doing great. To have your partner be that supportive is probably one of the most important things in the world, so kudos to him for just putting his nose down and being willing to do whatever it takes for her to keep achieving her dreams. It’s awesome.”

On Friday, Austyn showed off her darling toothless smile, and there are early signs she might just turn out a redhead — her parents would love that.

“It’s definitely uncharted waters, but we navigate this with the support of the coaching staff and the front office but also taking it a day at a time as a family,” Robert Nakken said. “We’re just here to support Alyssa and anything and everything that she needs from us. It’s just exciting to watch her go. Every day’s a challenge but athletes adjust and that’s what we’re here to do.”

AP MLB: https://apnews.com/MLB