Gabe Kapler is making a statement with a new hire to the San Francisco Giants’ coaching staff.
Alyssa Nakken, along with Mark Hallberg, was promoted to assistant coaches to help “build a winning culture in the clubhouse,” according to the Giants’ new manager. The promotion makes Nakken the first full-time female assistant coach in the history of Major League Baseball.
Nakken, 29, earned a master’s degree in sports management from the University of San Francisco and is a former academic All-American softball first baseman from Sacramento State. She joined the team as an operations intern in 2014 and has been overseeing the team’s health and wellness initiatives.
“Alyssa and Mark are highly-respected members of the organization,” Kapler said in a statement on Thursday. “In addition to assisting the rest of the coaching staff on the field, Mark and Alyssa will focus on fostering a clubhouse culture that promotes high performance through, among other attributes, a deep sense of collaboration and team.”
In a sport that has been historically male-dominated, many lauded Nakken’s historic hire as a win for women’s equality and diversity, including Justine Siegal, who became the first female coach in 2015 when she was hired by the Athletics instructional league team. Siegal tweeted in support of Nakken’s accomplishment on Thursday, “The wall is broken.”
“I knew early that [Alyssa] would blaze new trails and do something ground breaking,” said former Sacramento State head coach Kathy Strahan. “Her positive energy, intellect and tremendous drive to succeed will be an invaluable asset to the Giants players and organization. I believe this incredible journey is just the beginning and I know that she will enjoy the ride.”
Few decisions come without dissenters, however. Enter: retired Giants player Aubrey Huff.
“I got in trouble for wearing a thong in my own clubhouse when female reporters were present. Can’t imagine how it will play out with a full time female coach running around. This has #metoo & #BelieveAllWomen written all over it. Only in @SFGiants,” tweeted Huff.
“Couldn’t imagine taking baseball instruction from an ex female softball player. 🙄 Have fun with that @bcraw35 @bbelt9 @BusterPosey,” he replied to his own tweet, tagging Giants’ shortstop Brandon Crawford, first baseman Brandon Belt and catcher Buster Posey.
Huff, 43, played three seasons in San Francisco and was a member of two World Series-winning teams. Since his retirement in 2014, Huff has garnered criticism for his outspoken and off-color remarks on social media. In January, he “joked” about kidnapping Iranian women and making them “fan […] and feed” Americans, “amongst other things.”
Huff also drew scrutiny in last November when he tweeted that he was “getting his boys trained up on how to use a gun in the unlikely event @BernieSanders beats @realDonaldTrump in 2020.”
The Giants also interviewed Rachel Balkovec for the position, who was hired by the Yankees last year as a full-time minor league hitting coach.