SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — The San Francisco Giants have completed their coaching staff hires under new manager Gabe Kapler, including the first full-time female coach in Major League Baseball history.
The team announced Thursday the hiring of former Sacramento State softball player Alyssa Nakken as a Major League assistant coach for the 2020 season.
Nakken has been working with the Giants since 2014, beginning as an intern in the baseball operations department and is currently responsible for developing health and wellness initiatives and events, according to the team.
She was a four-time Academic All-American first baseman for the Hornets and a career .304 hitter. She also earned a Master’s degree in Sports Management from the University of San Francisco.
The Giants also added Mark Hallberg as an assistant coach, rounding out a 13-person Major League staff that includes 3rd base coach Ron Wotus as the only holdover from the Bruce Bochy era.
Hallberg is a former Florida State teammate of Giants catcher Buster Posey and has spent the past two seasons working in the Giants’ farm system.
“Alyssa and Mark are highly respected members of the organization and I’m delighted that they will now focus their talents on helping to build a winning culture in the clubhouse,” said Kapler. “In every organization, environment affects performance, and baseball clubhouses are no different. That’s why in addition to assisting the rest of the coaching staff on the field, Mark and Alyssa will focus on fostering a clubhouse culture that promotes high performance through, among other attributes, a deep sense of collaboration and team.”
Nakken’s mother, Gaye Nakken, was thrilled by the news but not surprised. “We just supported her and encouraged her and let her make her own decisions but we knew she was something special,” she said.
Gaye Nakken said her daughter always had hopes of paving the path for others. “She really wanted to be an advocate for women and young girls. That you can do this.”
TV analyst and former Giants pitcher Bill Laskey is concerned about how she will be welcomed in the clubhouse. “The only worry I worry about is getting into that locker room. How are they going to accept her?”
Laskey was at Oracle Park when the team made the announcement. He raved about Nakken’s qualifications and said he hopes Nakken’s work ethic will win over the veteran players she’s going to be working with in the clubhouse.
“It’s the older players that have to say the game is changing and I have to accepted or I’m going to be out of the game,” said Laskey. “Because [President of Baseball Operations] Farhan [Zaidi] is not going to take it. You see how many transactions he makes.”
Nakken was not available to comment on her hiring and a team spokesperson said she wants to transition into her role and meet the other coaches before doing interviews.
Rachel Balkovec, who recently joined the New York Yankees as a minor league hitting coach, was also interviewed by the Giants. Balkovec was the first woman hired as a full-time hitting coach by a major league franchise; her interview with the Giants is believed to be the first for a woman for a seeking a job in the majors.
The NFL has had a handful of female coaches since 2015, including Kelsey Martinez, strength and conditioning coach with the Oakland Raiders in 2018 and Katie Sowers, current San Francisco 49ers offensive assistant coach and the first openly LGBTQ coach in the league.
There are 11 women who are assistant coaches in the NBA, with six of them hired in the last off-season.