The Yankees officially introduced Rachel Balkovec as the manager of their Low-A affiliate, the Tampa Tarpons, on Wednesday.
News of her appointment was first been reported on Sunday by The Athletic's Lindsey Adler, who noted that the move makes Balkovec the first-ever female manager in the minor leagues.
Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, Balkovec said, “I don't think you sign your name on the dotted line to do something like this and then say, ‘Well, I don't want to be a role model.’ I just don't subscribe to that. People ask me, ‘Why are you on social media? And why this?’ And it's like I want to be a visible idea for young women. I want to be a visible idea for dads that have daughters. I want to be out there. And it's just, I have two jobs and that's fine.”
Balkovec joined the Yankees organization in 2019 as a minor-league hitting coach. The former softball player has worked in major league organizations for much of the past decade. She was previously a strength and conditioning coach for the Astros' Double-A affiliate, and has also worked for the White Sox and Cardinals.
Balkovec has not been shy about her aspirations to one day lead a major-league front office.
After the Marlins hired Kim Ng as the first-ever woman GM in MLB history, Balkovec pointed to her as an inspiration, as well as assistant general managers Raquel Ferreira and Jean Afterman of the Red Sox and Yankees, respectively.
“[Ng] has been deeply impactful to me,” Balkovec told Sports Illustrated's Stephanie Apstein in November 2020. “I don’t think she even really knows that. She and Raquel and Jean have really impacted my idea of what’s possible for me.”
She reiterated a similar sentiment on Wednesday, saying, “That's very much still on my mind, but I understand that’s a very long-term goal.”
“This is where I’m going to stay,” Balkovec added. “I don’t really have a timeline for when I would leave. But I just know I that future in that leadership and the front office is present in my mind.”
Commissioner Rob Manfred issued a statement regarding Balkovec's hiring, saying, in part, "On behalf of Major League Baseball, I congratulate Rachel on this historic milestone. As manager of the Tampa Tarpons, she will continue to demonstrate her expertise and leadership in the Yankees’ organization. We wish Rachel well in this new capacity and appreciate her mentorship to the growing network of women in baseball operations and player development roles."
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