Bianca Smith aims to be MLB manager


Bianca Smith had a smile on her face for a 30-minute zoom session with reporters. There was an enthusiasm in his voice that did not subside even when he talked about the most difficult moments of trying to establish himself in the male-dominated industry.

The newly appointed Minor League coach for the Boston Red Sox – the first black woman to have a job as a coach in professional baseball – qualified for a moment of pure joy shared with reporters on Thursday.

• Red Sox appoints Smith, first black female coach

Smith worked long and hard (sometimes without pay) in baseball to tame the way for the Red Sox. That Fort Myers, Fla. The team players will start by working in the development complex, which will help the players to excel in their craft.

At the age of 29, Smith sees too much space to climb that baseball mountain. And she is willing to do all the work that she can.

How was one day about managing a Major League team?

“Definitely,” Smith said, when asked if this was his goal. “I had an uncle who once said to me, ‘Don’t limit yourself.’ This is when I still wanted to be GM. I told him and he said, ‘Why not the president?’ I was like, ‘Oh, well, I didn’t think of that. I think I could do that.’

“Don’t limit yourself. I want to go as high as I can go. I want to continue to challenge myself and right now, yes, he’s an MLB manager. I guess that doesn’t change anytime soon.” Looks. Obviously, I changed my mind about being a GM, but as much as I love coaching, I want to be in that position [of manager]. I can learn as much as I want and get that role. “

With her tireless hard work to achieve this milestone, Smith now hopes for other minority women who dream of life in baseball – something Kim Ng has done for many years, especially when she is part of the Miami Marlins General Manager was named to become the first woman to hold that title in four major sports in North America.

“I remember it popping up on my phone and I just started cheering in my office,” Smith said. “I was so thrilled. I’ve been following his career for years. It’s about time. He was so big to me, my parents knew his name because I talked about him all the time. That was a big moment for me. I was excited to see it. Like I said, I thought it was about time. He should have been hired. [as a GM] Years ago, if not decades ago. No, it was really important to me. I think I have posted everywhere I could.

A few weeks later, Smith is the one who created history.

“I’m recognizing that people are inspired by this story,” Smith said. “I have people and say that I’m their role model now, and to be honest it’s still weird to think, because it wasn’t really my intention when I took the job. But I’m happy if my story is different Women, other women of color, can inspire other people of color – in fact, anyone.

He said, ‘I don’t want to put any limit on it. Even better if someone is inspired by this story. I think I would like to say my biggest thing is that I keep following your dreams. It is hard work, but it is also worth it. Whatever is easy is not really as fun. I like the challenge. “

on the case
So how did Smith go from softball player at Dartmouth – he also played club baseball to coach the Boston Red Sox?

As you might have guessed, a lot of steps have been taken in between. The first thing he had to do was forget about his original career goal of being a vet.

“I wanted to be a veterinarian for the longest time, even working as a high school for our local veterinarian. I took a biology class and went, ‘No, this may not be the best route for me, “” Smith recalled. “I continued searching, started working for a local YMCA and realized that I still had a love for the sport, even though I wasn’t playing. I knew if I was going to work in sports , So it was going to be baseball. Football was my backup, but I was going to do everything I could in baseball. It was a little bit after my freshman year of college, I decided, okay, I want to work in this game. “

After Smith graduated from Dartmouth, she discovered the perfect grade school. Baseball helped make him narrow. At each grade school she applied to, Smith made it clear that she wanted to play an active role in the baseball program.

Only one school responded favorably to that request, and it was Case Western in Cleveland.

“He saw me and came to Cleveland to visit the school in the spring of that senior year, and we sat down and chatted with us for ten to 15 minutes,” Case Western baseball coach Matt Engander said. “And by the end of it, I said, ‘Well, I want to hire you, I can’t pay you, but I want you to be the director of baseball operations.”

“She was like, ‘Great, what does this mean?” I was like, ‘I don’t know, you’re the first one. I have never done this before. I think it means that you help a lot in everything – on the field, off the field. But she was so smart, inspired, you can tell, she really wanted to make her career and get out of it and be around the game. It was an easy decision. “

Smith originally planned to stay at Case Western for two years to get an MBA. But he enjoyed coaching the baseball team, studied for two years and earned a law degree.

At the Case Western baseball program no one had given much thought to Smith’s gender or skin color. They were just thrilled for him.

“That was nothing that either I or any of the boys cared about,” Engler said. “She did a lot of things, and coaching was part of it, but she helped us with our travel plans, from relationships with parents and alumni to organizing events, throwing soft tosses, hitting ground balls, molds. Killing will do everything. Almost everything. Our people don’t really care what you like, any where you come from. We were happy that we had a smart, talented person with us, who was our Was trying to pull in the same direction. “

seeing red
Smith’s work at Case Western helped him build the foundation for coaching and administrative experience, another major step when he landed a baseball operation internship with the Cincinnati Reds focusing on player development and scouting.

“Getting on the field and just listening to the coaches, interacting with the players, interacting with the players – it impressed me a lot,” Smith said. “It was not just for teaching mechanics or going on their matrix. It was really, ‘How are you feeling?’ Things like this, especially people who are not into baseball, don’t really think about it. It needs more coaching than telling them what your swing looks like here. Here’s what your delivery looks like. It is not just that.

“He inspired me to learn more on the analytics side and the biomechanics side. He was a big part of my development. I am still in contact with the coaching staff and the front office. Whenever I have questions and want to run a strategy through them, they are ready to talk to me, so it is beyond great. “

Learning about biomechanics and analytics was a big help for Smith when she went to her most recent college coaching stop at Carroll University, where she was an assistant coach and hitting director while serving as assistant athletic director.

“He’s done a great job,” Carroll baseball coach Stein Ryer said. “He came in and became our hitting coordinator and actually implemented a hitting program. He really helped incorporate a lot of different technology into what we’re doing.”

The expertise Smith brought to Carroll is beyond the range used for Division III baseball players.

“She was able to pick up on such minor details,” Carroll catcher TJ Pfaffel said. “I know with me specifically, we worked in the offshin during our shootings, and she was able to pick up some stuff with my front leg time and just work on the ways that we could spend our time Could improve. Generally, at our level, you get moreso a team-based type of practice. It’s not really based on the individual, not what one person can do but what the whole team can do She was able to get into that specific coaching and some of us, including herself, were really needed. “

Baseball junkie is ready for the next level
Smith began by remembering her obsession with baseball when she was 2 or 3 years old, thanks to her mother who helped pull her into the game. She also credits Hollywood.

“I have to attribute the moves that came out in the 90s – Rookie of the Year, The Sandlot, in the Angels outfield. I saw those people and continued my love for the game. And then I studied it on my own, learned the strategy, ”Smith said.

“Bianca loves baseball,” Engler said. “And she played softball because it was available to her, and I’m sure she loved softball as well, but she’s really passionate about playing, coaching, watching, being a part of baseball. I know that she Will leave practice and then go home to watch MLB Network, like, all night, and come back to work. She’s addicted to sports, she loves it. She started going to someone who loves playing sports and Sees the game as someone who has come to understand it on a basic and complex and complex level. “

If outsiders are surprised at Smith’s history-making ascent, those working with him see it as the next stage of their progress.

“Not honestly,” Carroll athletic director Michael Schulze said. “I’m sure most people in the country were shocked that apparently the first black woman was able to get a job [coach in professional baseball]. I have known Bianca for two years now and I knew that day would come soon.

“From Day 1 onwards, it was clear that baseball was his passion. He was brought up through baseball and got a job here to have the opportunity to continue his coaching career with baseball. I knew that shortly before that she was going to get away from big things. I am very excited and happy for him. But to say I wonder if this day will be a lie. “

As Smith has counted the days of spring training, she wants to be able to be the most focused in her professional career so far.

“Super excited,” Smith said. “I think I just get to coach, I still haven’t wrapped my head around it. Yes, I’ve been coaching for years, but all my coaching positions have always been with a secondary duty, Or I had to work another job so that I could become a coach. This would be the first time I would just have to focus on coaching. I’m thrilled about it. In fact, the idea that I’m a coach right now, I stopped being excited about it. Can’t. As soon as I got that offer, the smile on my face just won’t go away for a while. “

Ian Brown has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow them on twitter @IanMBrowne And Facebook.

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