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San Francisco Giants hire first female coach in major-league baseball

Alyssa Nakken, 29, a former standout softball player at Sacramento State, will be in uniform for the big-league team, though not in the dugout during games.
In this 2007 file photo, Alyssa Nakken making the all-metro softball team at Woodland High School in Sacramento, Calif. [RENEE T. BONNAFON  |  ZUMAPRESS.com]
In this 2007 file photo, Alyssa Nakken making the all-metro softball team at Woodland High School in Sacramento, Calif. [RENEE T. BONNAFON | ZUMAPRESS.com]
Published Jan. 17
Updated Jan. 17

SAN FRANCISCO — The Giants made a historic hire Thursday, naming Alyssa Nakken as an assistant under new Giants manager Gabe Kapler, making her the first female coach in the major leagues.

While women have begun serving on coaching staffs in the NFL and NBA, and the New York Yankees recently hired Rachel Balkovec to be a minor-league hitting coach, Nakken is the first woman to be named to a big-league coaching staff, Major League Baseball confirmed to the Associated Press.

Nakken, 29, is considered to be one of the best softball players to suit up at Sacramento State. She was a three-time all-conference player, played first base, and also excelled in the classroom. She was a four-time Academic All-American and in her senior year in 2012, Nakken was named Scholar Athlete of the Year in the conference. She went on to earn a master’s degree in sport management from the University of San Francisco in 2015.

She joined the Giants in 2014 as an intern in baseball operations. She and Mark Hallberg, who was also named as an assistant Thursday, will work to promote high performance along with a close-knit team atmosphere.

Nakken wants to wait to do interviews until she has settled into her job. But Kapler said by phone from Arizona that Nakken will be working with Giants players on baserunning. She will throw batting practice. She will work with all the coaches on the technical aspects of the game while also working to help create unity and cohesion on a team full of new faces.

Of significance: Kapler said that Nakken will be in uniform, donning the Giants’ familiar black and orange. She won’t be in the dugout during games because teams are restricted to seven coaches there during games, and that staff had already been named before Nakken was hired.

“(Nakken) is the best choice for this job, period,” Kapler, a former Rays outfielder (2009-10), said. “She has experience as an elite athlete. She’s been with the Giants organization. She was successful leading initiatives with the Giants. She was a perfect fit.”

Kapler said the Giants interviewed a host of candidates before offering the job to Nakken, a native of Woodland, Calif. “She has tremendous communication skills and a lot of drive and determination and that stood out,” he said.

Nakken earned a degree in psychology at Sacramento State while also playing 164 consecutive games for the Hornets. She had been working in the Giants front office, running health and wellness programs, including the Giants Race series.

“Viewed from any angle, she was a candidate who would not be denied,” Kapler said.

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