It’s just fabric and thread, like the all the others. But that doesn’t change the meaning of Katie Krall’s uniform.

Krall, who will be 25 when the baseball season opens, was hired recently as a development coach for the Portland Sea Dogs, the Double-A affiliate of the Boston Red Sox, becoming one of the few women wearing a professional baseball uniform.

Not only is Krall able to pursue a personal dream — one that was unthinkable until very recently — but in doing so she gets to open up the game to others just like her. Everyone attending a Sea Dogs game this year will see Krall and know that the men’s-only club in the big professional sports leagues is starting to come apart.

“Personally, I knew it would allow me to be part of conversations and in a clubhouse situation where I get to see firsthand how information is consumed and disseminated,” Krall told the Press Herald recently. “I also think it’s really powerful that the Red Sox are giving me the platform to be part of a growing but still small group of women who are in uniform.”

In November 2020, Kim Ng of the Miami Marlins became Major League Baseball’s only female general manager. At the start of the 2021 season, there were 22 women in on-field coaching or player development roles.

This offseason, the New York Yankees hired Rachel Balkovec as manager of the Class A Tampa Tarpons, the first female manager in affiliated professional baseball.

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Krall is the second woman hired as a coach in the Red Sox organization, after Bianca Smith, who was recently promoted to the staff after working with players last year in Florida. She is the first Black female coach in pro baseball.

At the same time, in the same way, women are entering the ranks of coaching and team-building in professional football and men’s basketball.

Finally, the potential and experience of female candidates are being recognized. Finally, the major professional sports leagues are figuring out that they’ve been leaving a lot of talent out by only considering half the population.

Smith proved she belonged last year, doing the hard day-to-day work that it takes to establish oneself in the league.

At just 19, Krall was the assistant general manager for Hyannis of the famed Cape Cod League. She graduated from Northwestern in just three years before entering MLB’s first diversity fellowship program, which put her in a position in the commissioner’s office for two years.

Baseball almost didn’t keep her though. Krall worked for the Cincinnati Reds for two years before taking a job at Google. Only the opportunity to wear a uniform got her back.

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Balkovec, the first female manager, also had to wait for the right chance to show her ability. She reportedly had began listing her name as “Rae” on job applications after ones with “Rachel” didn’t seem to earn her a call.

Now she’s in uniform, as are Krall and Smith and a couple of dozen others.

On Opening Days in ballparks throughout the country, they’ll take the field — doing a job that a lot of people said they could never do.

 


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