On Sunday it was reported that the New York Yankees are hiring Rachel Balkovec to manage the Low A Tampa Tarpons, making her the first woman to skipper a team affiliated with Major League Baseball, according to a report by The Athletic.
Balkovec, who joined the Yankees organization as a hitting coach in 2019, made her the first woman with that job full-time in affiliated baseball. She got her first position in pro ball with the St. Louis Cardinals as a minor league strength and conditioning coach in 2012.
She was a former softball catcher at Creighton University and the University of New Mexico where she moved from the Cardinals to the Houston Astros in 2016. Balkovec was hired as the Latin American strength and conditioning coordinator, which helped her learn Spanish, and later became the strength and conditioning coach at Double-A Corpus Christi.
When she briefly left baseball in 2018 she went to pursue a second master’s degree at Vrije University in the Netherlands, where she also worked with the country’s national baseball and softball teams. She would then work for Driveline Baseball, a data-driven baseball center that has trained numerous major leaguers, before being hired by the Yankees.
Back in 2019 Balkovec told the Associated Press, “I view my path as an advantage, I had to do probably much more than maybe a male counterpart, but I like that because I’m so much more prepared for the challenges that I might encounter.”
That positivity and drive just might be what helps improve the development pool of the Yankees minor league team and eventually get her a position higher up in the majors, as she becomes a pioneer for many women to follow.