Another breakthrough for women in coaching ranks arrived Tuesday, as the Oakland Athletics hired Justine Siegal to be a guest instructor with their Instructional League team. Siegal becomes the first woman employed as a coach by an MLB team.
“We’re thrilled that Justine will be joining us for Instructional League,” A’s assistant general manager David Forst said (via the team’s Web site). “She brings with her a wealth of knowledge and expertise from years of playing, coaching, and teaching the game, and all of our young players stand to benefit greatly from her time in camp.”
In 2009, Siegal became the first woman to coach a men’s professional team, when she served as first-base coach for the Brockton Rox, an independent club. She is also believed to be the first woman to throw batting practice to major leaguers, which occurred in 2011 at the Cleveland Indians’ spring-training camp, and she has since thrown BP for several clubs.
Siegal, 40, is the founder and head coach of Baseball for All, a nonprofit organization that strives to expand opportunities in the sport, particularly for girls. She has a Ph.D. in sport and exercise psychology, and the A’s hope that she can help their players with both baseball and life skills.
“As a rookie coach, I expect to hit a lot of fungos, throw a lot of batting practice and help out wherever they want me to help,” Siegal told the San Francisco Chronicle. “And I do like talking about life skills – I like to help people achieve their life goals.”
Siegal follows in the footsteps of Jen Welter, who became the first woman to coach NFL players earlier this year, with the Arizona Cardinals. As with Welter, whose coaching internship lasted for several weeks and ended after the third preseason game, Siegal is currently holding a temporary position, as the A’s Instructional League session lasts from Oct. 4 to Oct. 17.
A possibility exists that Siegal could latch on with the A’s on a more permanent basis. From the Chronicle report:
“Justine knows that nothing has been promised, but we’re not ruling that out,” Forst said.
“I think it would be incredible to coach fulltime,” Siegal said. “But for now, I’ll do my best every day to help out any way I can, from carrying water to throwing BP to using my PhD.”