‘I’ve Never Been Afraid’: Kim Ng’s Rise to MLB GM Thanks to Title IX

by Pedro Mora
FOX Sports MLB clerk

Editor’s Note: This story is part of the FOX Sports series commemorating the 50th anniversary of Title IX, which was enacted into law on June 23, 1972. The series tells the stories of important women in sports today, both of which celebrate the progress that has been made. Manufactured and identify the barriers that remain.

When Kim Ng was a prominent softball player at the University of Chicago and president of the school’s Women’s Association Athletics Association, she led her team and majored in public policy, she wrote her thesis for Title IX.

The research piqued her interest so much that she wondered if there was a career for her in sports.

This was the spring of 1990. Ing had been interested in baseball since she was a child in Queens, New York, but she never thought of pursuing it professionally. Thirty years later, Miami hired Marlins Ng to become the first female general manager in Major League Baseball history. Her path to breaking down barriers began when she began to reflect on the history of the legislation, which this month celebrates its fiftieth anniversary.

Title IX, authored by Senator Birch Bay and Representatives Patsy Mink and Edith Green, prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in any school or educational program that receives funding from the federal government. At the time of his death, 42% of American college students identified as female. As of spring 2021, women made up nearly 60% of American college students, according to studies.

The law isn’t alone responsible for the shift in college enrollment, but experts say it has played an important role in providing opportunities for women that didn’t exist a generation ago.

Ng was already passionate about equal opportunity prior to her graduate thesis. That is why she chose to pursue the topic in the first place. But she has gained a broader understanding by doing her research.

Ng told University of Chicago Magazine in 2018 that the legislation “made clear why I had so many opportunities and how much work we still had to do.”

She started applying for an internship in her favorite sport shortly after submitting her thesis. Obtaining one requires extraordinary perseverance.

“I think it all started for me when I showed a little bit of passion after my first interview with the Chicago White Sox,” Ng told FOX Sports last year. “Actually, my second interview. They told me I didn’t get the job, and I decided this was really unacceptable, and I called back, and said I’d work for free.

“I think it was really that moment where they saw my character and saw that I wasn’t really willing to give it up and they offered me the job. So that was definitely a turning point for me.”

The next turning point came as Dan Evans, the former general manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers, was hired as an assistant GM in 2001. Ing said she then began to believe a switch to MLB GM was a possibility, one day.

“Once I got into the Dodgers and got a better sense of where I stood in the universe, I realized ‘OK, maybe that’s possible,'” Ng told FOX Sports last year. “I also think that the relationships that I had and was able to build with baseball people at this level, it must have been a concern for me just for being a woman — and being one of the only ones.

“As we know, a lot of this work is done by relationships and knowing people, knowing where to go and having the resources. I think that part of it started making sure in my head that this was really a possibility.”

Evans, who also hired NG with the White Sox, agreed. He said decades ago that Ng had a great opportunity to become General Motors.

But the following twenty years made clear the work that still needed to be done to equalize opportunities for men and women to lead professional sports. Ng has interviewed for a number of General Motors jobs and has been repeatedly turned down in favor of similarly qualified – or sometimes even less qualified – men. I continued to gather experience with the teams and then with the league office.

Ng didn’t get her first chance until Derek Jeter, who she worked with with the Yankees, took control of the Marlins.

“I was never afraid,” she said. “I think in some ways and at certain points, it makes you a little tougher because you don’t want to succumb to what a lot of people already think.”

Ing, of Chinese descent, is known as an Asian American, and few minority candidates of any gender have won sweepstakes for jobs in American professional sports. In a best-case scenario, its rise would be the next step forward for minorities in a historically closed field. You’ll let someone else know it’s achievable, like the rise of Elaine Weddington Steward in the Boston Red Sox and, later, the rise of Jan Afterman in the Yankees front office he did for NJ.

Already, the gates seem to be opening. In 2022, women like Rachel Balkovich, Alyssa Naken and Sarah Goodram run minor league teams, train for major league teams and run player development departments. Like Ng before them, many of them played softball at the university level and started at the bottom of the giant organizational charts.

Like Ng before them, they soar.

Pedro Moura is the National Baseball Writer for FOX Sports. He previously covered the Dodgers for three seasons for The Athletic and before that, Angels and Dodgers for five seasons for the Orange County Register and LA Times. Previously, he covered his home university, USC, for ESPNLosAngeles.com. The son of Brazilian immigrants, he grew up in the suburbs of Southern California. His first book, How to Beat a Broken Game, came out this spring. Follow him on Twitter at Tweet embed.

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