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Kim Ng’s career was worth noticing and celebrating and, above all, respecting even before the Miami Marlins hired her as the first female general manager in a major men’s sport at the start of this offseason. Her ascension was met, rightly, with stories about how overdue it was, how overqualified she was, or maybe had to be.
Hopefully, if she had time to read those reactions while she acquainted herself with the dynamic young Miami organization that just proved itself postseason-worthy, she took them as compliments. It wasn’t her fault that it took this long.
Ng’s desire to be a GM has been well-known around baseball for years. Once the youngest assistant GM in MLB, she interviewed for top jobs — first with the Dodgers, then eventually with the Mariners, Angels, Padres and Giants — for 15 years while working her way up into the commissioner’s office. I always liked how evident and, from afar at least, unapologetic her ambition seemed. A fear of seeming embarrassingly strident when there’s no precedent for success is its own form of glass ceiling. As a woman and an Asian American, Ng had to be competent, confident, clear, well-liked and patient to break through, all while resisting the urge to hang her self-worth on a decision she couldn’t control.
At her introductory news conference, Ng said that she would have considered her career a success even if she had never been a GM — she wouldn’t have deserved it any less. But she said something else too: that it had been hard, all those years, to interview publicly for a position she so longed for, especially when she had an inkling she wasn’t being seriously considered. But she did it anyway, because it was important to pave that path for someone to walk down. I’m just glad it got to be her.
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