The San Francisco Giants announced Thursday that they hired the first full-time female coach in Major League Baseball history. Alyssa Nakken, a former standout softball player at Sacramento State, will be tasked with “helping to build a winning culture in the clubhouse,” according to Manager Gabe Kapler.

Nakken, who has worked in the Giants’ organization since 2014, began as an intern and has more recently been overseeing health and wellness initiatives for the organization. She played first base for Sacramento State from 2009 through 2012 and was a four-time Academic All American, three-time all-Pacific Coast Softball Conference selection and the 2012 conference Scholar-Athlete of the Year.

Another coach added to the major league squad Thursday was Mark Hallberg, a former teammate of Giants catcher Buster Posey at Florida State who has spent the past two years in player development for the club. In 2019, he was the manager of the Giants’ Class-A affiliate in Keizer, Ore., and he and Nakken bring the number of Giants’ coaches to 13.

“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,” Kapler said in a statement. “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 follows a handful of women who have earned opportunities in MLB teams’ baseball operations, including:

  • Justine Siegal, who in 2011 became the first woman to throw batting practice for an MLB squad (during spring training with the Cleveland Indians), and was given a two-week stint in 2015 by the Oakland A’s as a guest instructor for their instructional league team.
  • Jessica Mendoza, an ESPN analyst who was hired by the New York Mets in March 2019 in an advisory role.
  • Veronica Alvarez, who worked last spring with A’s minor leaguers as a special guest instructor, with a focus on catchers.
  • Rachel Folden, announced in November as the Chicago Cubs’ lead hitting lab tech and fourth coach for their Rookie League team in Mesa, Ariz.
  • Rachel Balkovec, named in November by the New York Yankees as a minor league hitting coach and who previously worked as a strength-and-conditioning coach in the St. Louis Cardinals’ and Houston Astros’ systems.

Before joining the Giants, Nakken was employed by the University of San Francisco baseball team as its chief information officer, and in 2015 she earned a Master’s Degree in Sport Management from the University of San Francisco.

She is expected to assist with pregame outfield work, and she may also serve as a batting practice pitcher during the season, according to the San Jose Mercury News. She is not expected to be in uniform in the Giants’ dugout during games, as MLB limits teams to seven coaches on the bench.

Nakken will, however, wear a uniform before games and will travel full-time with the team, according to Kapler.

“Simply, I think she’s going to be a great coach,” he said. “Merit and the ability to be a great coach trumps all.”

“I’m still getting goose bumps,” Nakken’s coach at Sacramento State, Kathy Strahan, told the San Francisco Chronicle. “I always knew she’d do something great, I really did, but didn’t know what because she could do so many things. I think she’ll bring a lot to the organization.

“And as a female, with her intelligence and determination and hunger and drive to excel — I understand some of her responsibility is keeping her fingers on the pulse of the culture — it’s invaluable. She’ll broaden the scope and perspective, and I applaud Gabe for doing this.”

Kapler, who spent the past two seasons managing the Philadelphia Phillies, was hired by the Giants in November to replace three-time World Series winner Bruce Bochy. Kapler said then that he was “sorry that I didn’t make all the right moves” while serving as the Los Angeles Dodgers’ director of player development in 2015, when he failed to alert police about a complaint he received from a 17-year-old girl who told him in an email that two Dodgers minor leaguers had witnessed an assault she suffered from two other women.

The girl subsequently told authorities that one of the Dodgers players sexually assaulted her while she was intoxicated in a player’s hotel room before the beating. The player was never charged with a crime, and a lawyer hired by the Dodgers to represent him denied the player committed sexual assault.

“I don’t think that I did enough, and we’ve talked about some of the ways that I could have been better in those situations,” Kapler, 44, said in November of the 2015 episode. “I have a lot of remorse for that. I wish I would have been more informed, I wish I would have gotten more informed and I take responsibility for not taking those steps.”

Read more: