Bianca Smith Makes History As the First Black Woman Coach in the MLB

Margaret Unger, Contributing Writer

Throughout the 118 years of Major League Baseball (MLB), a Black woman has never coached a professional team. However, that is changing in 2021. The Boston Red Sox announced the hiring of Bianca Smith on January 4th as a minor league coach; she will begin coaching in February. This will make Smith the first Black woman to coach in MLB history.

In an interview on the MLB Network, Smith said, “I think it’s a great opportunity also to kind of inspire other women who are interested in this game. This is not really something I thought about it when I was younger.” There are currently only a handful of female MLB coaches. Smith is well-qualified for this position, currently working as the assistant coach and hitting coordinator at Carroll University. As hitting coordinator, she gained valuable experience with technology and metrics. She has also interned in the front offices of two MLB teams. Additionally, Smith is an experienced player of the sport, having played baseball and softball throughout high school and college. CRLS Director of Athletics Tom Arria commented, “This hire is even more unique in that Bianca is a woman of color, and further shows there are people out there recognizing that no matter who you are, what you may look like, that you are qualified to perform in any job.” Raquel Ferreira, Executive Vice President of the Boston Red Sox, echoed that sentiment, telling the Register Forum in an email interview, I always tell people that you have to see it to believe it. And now people can see Bianca as a coach on the field and other girls and boys can think this is possible.”

Smith is well-qualified for this position, currently working as the assistant coach and hitting coordinator at Carroll University.

Smith will join a league where approximately 40% of players are people of color, compared to only 13% of managers and 3% of owners, a clear discrepancy between diversity on and off the field. Furthermore, 30% of professional baseball employees are female, but few serve in executive roles. At an introductory conference on January 7th, Smith noted that women of color may feel discouraged from pursuing careers in professional baseball because they do not see role models that look like them. Smith later told the press that “If the result of this position is that more women, more people in general are inspired to consider this as a position or at least try to get into the game, that would be great.”

Amidst the hardships 2020 brought, it was a year of progress in the MLB. Alyssa Nakken became the first female full-time coach for a Major League team last January. Similarly, Kim Ng became the first female General Manager in MLB history when the Miami Marlins hired her in November. Bianca Smith’s hiring is especially significant for the Red Sox, who in recent years have attempted to distance themselves from racism in their history. In 1959, under team owner Tom Yawkey, the Red Sox became the last MLB team to integrate, twelve years after Jackie Robinson became the first modern-day MLB player of color. In 2018, Boston renamed Yawkey Way to Jersey Street, further separating the current team from Yawkey’s marred legacy. The hiring of Bianca Smith goes beyond making amends for past disgraces, but demonstrates a willingness to ensure the Red Sox are on the right side of history as it unfolds. The Red Sox have great faith in her. Ferreira commented, “She has the talent and résumé to back up her skill set and I’m looking forward to seeing what she does this season.” For Smith herself, coaching may only be the beginning, sharing, “I want to challenge myself, and right now, that [goal] is MLB manager.”