Alice Naken is training first base for the San Francisco Giants

It was an unusual scene at Oracle Park in San Francisco on Tuesday. The Giants first baseman coach was sent off in the third inning, and after his replacement came out on the field, Eric Hosmer, the first baseman for the San Diego Padres, came to shake her hand.

Hosmer clearly understood the significance of the moment: Alice Naken was the first woman to coach the field in a Major League Baseball game.

Naken, 31, is no stranger to the former. Assistant coach at the headquarters of manager Gabe Kapler since 2020, she was already the first woman to have a full-time coaching role in the big ones.

After Tuesday’s game, which the Giants won 13-2, she spoke about the importance of the move, while also making it clear that it was within her official duties.

“I think we are all inspired by doing everything we do every day, and I think yes, it carries a little more weight because of visibility,” she told reporters after the match.

“Obviously it’s historical,” she added. “But again, this is my job.”

Climbing Nakken through the ranks of the Giants is part of a growing trend for women to win bigger roles in the game. In the last few months, Tampa Tarpons’ Rachel Balkovets became the first woman to lead a baseball team; Genevieve Beacom, a 17-year-old pitcher, began playing professionally in Australia; and Kelsey Whitmore, a 23-year-old pitcher, signed a contract with Staten Island’s Ferry Hawks of the Atlantic League for Professional Baseball. Last year, Kim Ng became the first woman to lead the MLB team’s front office as its general manager.

In San Francisco, Kapler said Naken, in addition to his work on the team’s basic running and field defense, is helping to keep things in order for his unusually large staff of 13 coaches. He said on Tuesday that she was preparing to take over the field, working with the team’s usual first base coach, Antoine Richardson. Prior to that, she was also a first base coach during the spring training matches.

“For her, this is no stranger to the field,” Kapler said. “She does so many other things that you can’t see. So it’s nice to see her right there in the spotlight and do it on the field. “

Unfortunately, Naken’s big moment was caused by an ugly incident in which Richardson got into an argument with Mike Shield, the coach of the third base of Padres. The controversy probably started because a Giants player stole a base with a nine-run lead. But in the course of the controversy, Richardson said Shield had told Kapler that the Giants manager should “control” Richardson, using swear words to describe the Bahamas coach. Richardson told reporters after the match that he believed the incident had a “tinge of racism”.

Although this coaching incident is likely to be investigated by the teams or the MLB, the importance of Naken occupying the pitch was clear to all participants: the orange helmet she wore was on its way to Cooperstown to be added to the Hall of Fame. of baseball permanent collection.

“It’s a big deal,” she told reporters. “I feel a great sense of responsibility and I feel it is my job to honor those who have helped me get to where I am.”

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