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MiLB

Rachel Balkovec on negativity amid her new position as MiLB manager

Rachel Balkovec, the first woman to manage full-time in MLB's version of the minor leagues, shares her thoughts on the negativity. “I want to be out there.”

Update:
Rachel Balkovec, the first woman to manage full-time in MLB's version of the minor leagues, shares her thoughts on the negativity. “I want to be out there.”
MARK BROWNAFP

Revolutionary minor league baseball manager Rachel Balkovec has been named as the new manager for the New York Yankees’ Low-A affiliate, the Tampa Tarpons; Low-A affiliate is the fourth-highest level of play in Minor League Baseball.

On Wednesday, the 34-year-old held her first press conference since her promotion to the new position, and she is certainly looking to be “visible.”

During the virtual conference, Balkovec discussed how her journey has been, and what this position means to her now.

Who is Rachel Balkovec?

In 2012, Balkovec started her baseball career as a strength and conditioning coach with the St. Louis Cardinals’ Johnson City, Tenn., minor-league affiliate. While she was on a temporary contract, Balkovec’s hard work earned her the Appalachian League's award for Strength Coach of the Year. She was then hired full-time for that same position in 2014, becoming the very first female to hold that title.

In 2016, the groundbreaking Balkovec was then hired as the Houston Astros' Latin American strength and conditioning coordinator, becoming the first woman, once again, to have held that role in MLB history.

Fast forward two years, in 2018 Balkovec became the Class AA Corpus Christi Hooks' strength and conditioning coach before moving to the Netherlands to work as an assistant hitting coach in both baseball and softball. While it seems like Balkovec was having great progress, she certainly didn’t have it easy.

When asked how she dealt with the negativity and the discussion about her background and qualifications, she shared that she has been involved in baseball for 10 years, and she’s overcome a lot of challenges, including “sleeping on a mattress that she had pulled out of a dumpster in Amsterdam.”

“I think everybody can enjoy a piece of my story.” 

Before being promoted to her final position on Sunday, Balkovec joined the Yankees' minor-league system as a hitting coach in 2019.

MLB commissioner Rob Manfred released a statement on Wednesday evening, celebrating Balkovec’s hiring:

"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.

"Major League Baseball is committed to providing a supportive environment for women and girls to pursue our sport as players, coaches, umpires and executives. We are proud of Rachel, new Director of Player Development Sara Goodrum of the Astros and all the women across our sport who are setting a positive example for our next generation of fans and proving, on and off the field, that Baseball is a game for everyone."

Billie Jean King praises Rachel Balkovec

According to Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post, Rachel Balkovec also shared that one of her best moments over the last few days was when the legendary tennis player Billie Jean King congratulated her.

"OK, I can die now. Billie Jean King congratulated me," Balkovec said. 

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