Another barrier in the sports world was broken this month when Alyssa Nakken coached first base in the late innings of an exhibition game between the San Francisco Giants and the Oakland Athletics, thus becoming the first woman to appear in uniform on the field during a major league baseball game. The Giants won the game, 6-2.
While Nakken’s appearance in the coach’s box on 20th July may have surprised some baseball fans, it didn’t really surprise Dan Rascher, director of academics for the master’s degree program in sports management at the Jesuit-run University of San Francisco, and a professor in the program.
“To an extent, it’s surprising: ‘Wow, the first woman to be on a major league baseball staff.’ But it’s not surprising that it would be her,” Rascher told Catholic News Service. Nakken was “a really strong leader and a very well-grounded student and person”.
Nakken – officially listed as an ‘assistant coach’ on new Giants manager Gabe Kapler’s staff – took Rascher’s sports economics and finance course at USF. “I can’t give you her grade, but I thought she was an excellent student,” he said. “Her group students liked her. She was an excellent leader.”
Nakken, now 30, got her master’s degree from USF in 2015. Typically, most students in the program look for jobs or internships with professional teams, sports agents or stadium; Rascher estimates 20 alumni from the program work for the Giants in some capacity. But Nakken landed her job with the club a year before getting her degree.
“Usually by the time they get to me, which is eight months in, they tended to look for jobs or internships in the sports industry. But she was a go-getter, so she was already pretty successful,” Rascher said.
Picture: Alyssa Nakken, a coach with the San Francisco Giants, is seen at Oracle Park during an exhibition game against the Oakland A’s. She is Major League Baseball’s first female coach. (CNS photo/Kelley L Cox, USA TODAY Sports via Reuters).