August 13, 2022

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First on first: Alyssa Nakken makes coaching history

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SAN FRANCISCO — Alyssa Nakken broke another historic barrier on Tuesday night, becoming the first woman to coach on the field in a Major League game in the Giants’ 13-2 victory over the Padres at Oracle Park.

Nakken took over as the Giants’ first-base coach in the top of the third inning after Antoan Richardson was ejected from the game by crew chief Greg Gibson following a dispute with Padres third-base coach Mike Shildt. Nakken said bench coach Kai Correa came down to the batting cages and told her she would be replacing Richardson. And so she made her on-field coaching debut with the Giants, who originally hired the 31-year-old as an assistant coach in January 2020. 

“It was unreal,” Giants infielder Mauricio Dubón said. “She was one of us out there, so it was pretty cool.”

The Giants have been grooming Nakken for a possible on-field coaching position for a while, as she previously moonlighted as the club’s first-base coach during an exhibition game against the A’s at the Coliseum two years ago.

“Our first-base coach got thrown out,” Nakken said. “I’ve been in training as a first-base coach for the last few years. I work alongside Antoan, so I stepped into what I’ve been hired to do.”

While Nakken downplayed the achievement, players on both teams seemed to understand the significance of the moment. Nakken received a congratulatory handshake from Padres first baseman Eric Hosmer and a big hug from Giants catcher Curt Casali when she returned to the dugout in the bottom of the third.

“I just introduced myself, congratulated her,” Hosmer said. “It’s obviously a special moment for her, and a special moment for the game. … It’s something she should be really proud of.”

Nakken’s milestone appearance came less than a week after fellow trailblazer Rachel Balkovec made her managerial debut with the Yankees’ Single-A affiliate in Tampa.

“Everybody can just see that there are a lot of opportunities in baseball,” Nakken said. “Sometimes I think we always limit ourselves to thinking what we could do. At least that’s my experience. I never thought that I could do something like this because I never saw it. So I think, sure, it’s certainly important for people to be able to see that this is an opportunity and they can see somebody that kind of looks like them going out there and coaching in the big leagues.”

A former standout first baseman on Sacramento State’s softball team, Nakken earned her master’s degree in sport management from the University of San Francisco and originally joined the Giants as a baseball operations intern in 2014. She served in various front-office roles before becoming the first full-time female coach in Major League history.

Nakken said she donated the bright orange City Connect helmet from Tuesday night’s game to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, which also houses the Giants jersey she wore on Opening Day 2020.

“I think we’re all inspirations doing everything that we do on a day-to-day basis,” Nakken said. “I think this carries a little bit more weight because of the visibility. Obviously there’s a historical nature to it. But again, this is my job.”

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