SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Alyssa Nakken was hard at work in the batting cage, just steps from the dugout when suddenly the call came: the San Francisco Giants needed her to coach at first base.
She quickly removed her sweatshirt, grabbed her No. 92 jersey, and found a bright orange batting helmet.
Minutes later, Nakken made major league history as the first female coach on the field in a regular season game when she took her place Tuesday night in a 13-2 win over San Diego.
“I think we’re all inspirations who do everything we do on a day-to-day basis and I think, yes, it carries a bit more weight because of the visibility, there’s obviously a historical character to it,” said she declared. . “But again, that’s my job.”
Nakken came on to coach first base for the Giants in the third inning after Antoan Richardson was ejected.
When she was announced as Richardson’s replacement, Nakken received a warm ovation from the crowd at Oracle Park and a congratulatory handshake from Padres first baseman Eric Hosmer.
“Right now, right now, as I think back, I think back to someone who was supposed to come out, we needed a coach to coach first base, our first base coach got kicked out, I’m in training as a first base coach for the past few years and worked alongside Antoan, so I stepped into what I was hired to do is support this staff and this team,” said Nakken.
The Baseball Hall of Fame was also ready. His helmet is already on its way to the sanctuary in Cooperstown, New York.
San Francisco manager Gabe Kapler said Nakken had “prepared for this moment” by working with Richardson and others.
“So it’s not a foreign place on the pitch for her. She does so many other things well that you don’t see,” he said. “So it’s nice to see her in the spotlight and doing it on the pitch.”
Nakken is an assistant coach who works a lot with base running and outfield defense. She watches games from an indoor batting cage near the steps leading to the dugout — and keeps a Giants jersey nearby, just in case she needs it.
And in an instant Tuesday night, she needed it.
Nakken, 31, ran onto the field four days after Rachel Balkovec became the first woman to lead a minor league affiliate of a Major League Baseball team. She guided the Tampa Class A club of the New York Yankees to victory in their first game.
Nakken previously coached the position in spring training and part of an exhibition game in July 2020 in Oakland against current Padres manager Bob Melvin when he was skipper of the Athletics. It started again a night later against the A’s in San Francisco as teams prepared for the pandemic-delayed season.
“You feel a sense of pride to be there,” Nakken said at the time. “Me personally, it’s the best place to watch a game, that’s for sure.”
The former Sacramento State softball star, whose blonde braid dangled from her orange hard hat on Tuesday, became the first female major league coach when she was hired on Kapler’s staff in January 2020.
At Sacramento State from 2009 to 2012, Nakken was a three-time All-Conference MVP at first base and a four-time Academic All American. She then earned a master’s degree in sports management from the University of San Francisco in 2015 after interning with the Giants’ baseball operations department a year earlier.
From day one with the Giants, Nakken embraced her role as an example for girls and women that they can do anything.
“It’s a big deal,” she said. “I feel a great sense of responsibility and I feel it’s my job to honor those who have helped me where I am.”
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