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Alyssa Nakken becomes the first woman to coach on the field in MLB history

Ezra Shaw
Getty Images
Alyssa Nakken of the San Francisco Giants, left, became the first female on-field coach in league history during a game against the San Diego Padres at Oracle Park on Tuesday in San Francisco.

While San Francisco Giants fans may have enjoyed their team's 13-2 home victory over the San Diego Padres Tuesday night, a different type of win came when Giants assistant coach Alyssa Nakken took over as first base coach, becoming the first woman to coach on the field in major league baseball history.

After Giants regular first-base coach Antoan Richardson was ejected from the game at the top of the third inning, Nakken was called in to replace him.

It became another milestone for the coach who was already the league's first full-time female coach. Nakken became an assistant coach in 2020 after working in the team's front office.

This wasn't Nakken's first time at first base either. She made an appearance for the Giants during an exhibition game in 2020, but it was the first time she's coached during a regular season game.

Nakken, who played first base for Sacramento State's softball team, brings years of experience at the position, making it a no-brainer for bench coach Kai Correa to call her up after Richardson's ejection. But for the Giants' assistant coach, Tuesday night was just another day at the office.

"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," said Nakken, according to MLB.com.

Although she tried to downplay the achievement, the moment wasn't lost on the players. Padres first baseman Eric Hosmer made sure to give her a congratulatory handshake. Giants' catcher Curt Casali gave her a big hug when she returned to the dugout.

Jed Jacobsohn / AP
San Diego Padres first baseman Eric Hosmer, left, shakes hands with San Francisco Giants first base coach Alyssa Nakken on Tuesday.

And for baseball, Tuesday night was a step forward for the league as it continues its push at diversification.

Nakken's milestone comes just three months after the New York Yankees made history by hiring the minor leagues' first female manager, Rachel Balkovec, who made her managerial debut last week with the Yankees' Single-A affiliate in Tampa.

For years, the MLB has sought to diversify the league's on-field and operations positions by introducing programs such as its diversity pipeline and a diversity fellowship program.

And while it takes time for such programs to bear fruit, the league no doubt sees these as encouraging signs.

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Jeff Dean
Jeff Dean is the 2021 Military Veterans in Journalism intern for NPR reporting for the Business Desk and Newsdesk teams.