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OPINION: Why has it taken MLB teams this long to put a female coach on the field?
Alyssa Nakken
Giants first base coach Alyssa Nakken, right, fist-bumps Joey Bart during the April 12 game against San Diego. Nakken made major league history as the first female coach on the field in a regular-season game. - photo by File Photo

A national sports item caught my eye recently and took me back to a time when such events would not be as widely accepted as they are now, especially in the Deep South.

It also reminded me of a lady who just wanted to give some young athletes a chance to develop their talents as baseball players no matter their genders.

San Francisco Giants assistant coach Alyssa Nakken took over as first base coach April 12 — becoming the first woman to coach on the field during a regular season game in Major League Baseball history.

Nakken was called in to replace Giants regular first-base coach Antoan Richardson when he was ejected from the game at the top of the third inning, according to a report by National Public Radio

She was already the league’s first full-time female coach after being hired as an assistant coach in 2020 after working in the team’s front office.

MLB reportedly has been seeking to diversify the league’s on-field and operations positions. And Nakken’s chance at history came three months after the New York Yankees hired the minor leagues’ first female manager, Rachel Balkovec, for the Yankees’ single-A level team in Tampa.

It reminds me of a nice lady who gave a little kid a chance to play organized baseball for the only time in his life in Memphis, Tennessee.

That kid, me, later discovered he possibly could have played himself into a starting position if he applied himself at practice. But I digress.

The lady was named Joyce and she loved baseball. She had grown up on a west Tennessee farm and excelled at softball in church leagues before girls’ sports were widely accepted in high schools in the South. She had broken a leg falling out of a deer stand, which ended her playing days, but she was able to devote the time needed to leading her son’s baseball team when men either wouldn’t or couldn’t find the time.

I remember more than one opposing male coach saying they wouldn’t play against a team coached by a woman.

But the team won about as many as it lost and gave a group of young athletes a chance to compete before some of them moved on to become outstanding high school athletes

Joyce proved she knew when a player should bunt to advance the runner, and when they should swing away. She knew when to tell her infielders not to try throwing home when a bad throw could have cost more runs — just like the other teams’ male coaches.

I was not one of those athletes who went on to play high school sports. But she gave me the chance to pinch-hit in a game in which I had the only home run I ever hit.

Actually, it was a probably a triple but the third baseman couldn’t handle the throw in from the outfield, allowing me to go home. But it was nice for a fifth-grader to have the chance to do something like that.

I also remember another game in which the opposing coach allowed his team of fifth- and sixth-graders to unmercifully taunt our coach when they were beating us pretty soundly. She led us to a victory over the same team on our home field later in the season and ordered us not to taunt them — despite the temptation to do so.

Joyce moved on to coach many of the same players at the next age level and led them to a number of wins.

A female coach did all that years ago and proved she could coach with the men.

So, now, it’s taken all these decades for a Major League Team to take a chance on a female coach. The question is, “Why?”

Tom Spigolon is news editor of The Covington News. He may be reached at