For those who have known Kim Ng for years, the only surprise to her history-making hire was that it took so long.
“I sent her an email, and I think the subject line was, ‘It’s about time,’” said Howard Pizer, Chicago White Sox senior executive vice president.
“As fierce a competitor as she was on the softball field, she’s that fierce in pursuit of excellence, so it’s no surprise she’s at where she is today,” said Courtney Haught, Ng’s former softball teammate at the University of Chicago.
Before she broke barriers as the first woman general manager in North American sports, the former UChicago softball star broke into baseball with the White Sox 30 years ago, climbing from intern to assistant director of baseball operations in her six years on the South Side.
“Personally, just being part of the Sox organization that helped to nurture someone at the earliest stages, and someone overdue for the position they finally got, we take pride in that,” Pizer said.
Ng acknowledged the impact several people in the White Sox organization had on her baseball career during her introductory press conference with the Marlins this week.
“I can tell you (White Sox chairman) Jerry Reinsdorf has had an impact on me. Jerry has been an incredibly loyal owner to his staff, and that’s always stuck with me.
“(White Sox executive vice president) Kenny Williams was a great influence. Kenny was one of the guys who took me out scouting.
“(White Sox senior director of minor league operations) Grace Zwit. She was a great help when I was with the White Sox. You don’t mess with Grace. It really showed me if you knew what you’re doing, you have a voice and you’re at the table and you tell people.”
From Michelle Obama to Billie Jean King –a childhood hero of hers—Ng has received an outpouring of support on social media.
“The idea it’s affected this many people is just extraordinary,” Ng said. “I thought it would be a big deal, but this is beyond my expectations. People are looking for hope and people are looking for inspiration.”
“An excellent step for women in sports,” Haught said. “I know Kim is happy and proud to be blazing a trail for others.”
“If a woman rises to this position in baseball, then it says something positive about America,” Pizer said.
Ng knows the pressure that comes with bearing the torch for women and Asian-Americans in sports.
“When Derek (Jeter) told me I got the job, a 10,000 pound weight was lifted off this shoulder and a half hour later transferred to this shoulder,” Ng said. “I do feel quite a lot of responsibility. I have my entire career.”
What she is responsible for now is inspiring every girl who has picked up a mitt that nothing is out of reach.
“Anything is possible,” Ng said. “That’s my message.”