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Rachel Balkovec Gets Hired by the Marlins and Surprise: The Men Are Mad!

In the dog days of the MLB offseason, news cycles can get slow. The biggest news of the last week involved Rachel Balkovec, the former Yankees minor league Tampa Tarpons manager. On January 9th, Balkovec was hired by the Miami Marlins to head  their player development program. She is no stranger to blazing trails in baseball since she was the first woman hired to be a hitting coach and the first woman hired as a manager of a minor league team. Even with all her experience in major league baseball, the posts announcing her position on social media have been overwhelmingly filled with hate comments, with one user on Twitter commenting, “How is the best person for developing men to play a man’s sport… a woman?” While women in sports never have to owe it to a man to explain why they receive jobs, let’s look back at some of the reasons Balkovec was the ideal candidate for the Marlins.  

Photo Credit: Corey Sipkin / NY Post

She Is More Than Qualified!  

  • In college, Balkovec studied kinesiology, to help athletes perfect their craft without getting hurt. She was the catcher of her college’s softball team and worked closely with the St. Louis Cardinals while obtaining her master's. When she had trouble finding jobs due to her gender, she worked closely with teams in their minor league systems and pursued a second master's degree while working in Amsterdam. However, one of her greatest achievements was teaching herself Spanish so she could effectively communicate with her players, a feat many male managers cannot say they have achieved. She was hired by the Yankees as the first female hitting coach in 2019 and then hired to be the first female manager in MILB in 2022.

She Successfully Managed a Minor League Team   

  • Managing a team is not for the weak, and Balkovec was able to do that for two seasons. In two seasons of minor league managing, Balkovec kept her team afloat and showed off her strengths through her players. While the team did not have the best record, in 2022, the Tarpons had a positive run differential despite being almost last in the standings. While prospects such as Spencer Jones and Jasson Dominguez shuffled through the team, Balkovec kept the status quo in the locker room and created an atmosphere for her players that many have applauded. 

Photo Credit: Phelan M. Ebenhack / AP

She has Successfully Developed many Star Players  

  • Balkovec had been with the Yankees organization since 2019, coaching several young star players like Jasson Dominguez, Anthony Volpe, Austin Wells, and Oswald Peraza. While we cannot predict the careers of these players just yet, each of them had an immediate impact on the 2023 Yankees. Dominguez and Volpe are projected to be core players for the Yankees for years to come, and that undoubtedly tracks back to impacts from Balkovec.   

While there were many positive comments on the hiring of Balkovec, including many Yankee fans who were sad to see her leave the organization, there were so many diminishing the wonderful things she has done for Major League Baseball. In the end, we need to celebrate the accomplishments of women in the sport because it is not easy for anyone to do these jobs, let alone a woman who is dealing with criticism every day of her life. Balkovec should be uplifted for her accomplishments, viewed just like everyone else receiving positions in baseball, and not discriminated against because of her gender.  

 Photo Credit: Dustin Bradford / Getty Images

Edited By: Sarah Muñoz 

Social Media Content Created By: Jenna Rose Weisenbach

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