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Kim Ng: Big league barrier breaker

A heavy hitter for Major League Baseball

For Kim Ng, sports have been a major influence for as long as she can remember.

She was raised on tennis, earned her degree through softball, then built a career through baseball where she helped break gender barriers and become Major League Baseball’s senior vice-president for baseball operations. 

“Throughout my life, sports have had a tremendous impact on me,” she said. “I’m not really sure who I would be without sports.”

Kim Ng with the Dodgers

Ng was born in Indianapolis, but she grew up in the Queens borough of New York City just four miles from Shea Stadium, an auspicious setting considering the career path she would later follow. Her dad was a big baseball and football fan, but in those days Kim says she, her parents and her four sisters were more into playing sports than watching them. They hit the tennis courts together every weekend as a family.

“As a kid, I loved Billie Jean King and Martina Navratilova because of what they stood for — Billie Jean for equality, and Martina for being true to yourself,” Kim said.

Though Kim claims tennis as her first sport, her loyalties switched to softball once she took up the sport at age 11. She also shared a love of armchair baseball with her dad, and grew particularly fond of the Yankees’ solid, gritty catcher Thurman Munson as well as their classy, professional first baseman and outfielder, Don Mattingly.

Kim played third base and shortstop through her college years at the University of Chicago and was named MVP Infielder. There, she balanced softball with other extracurricular activities, including positions as sports editor of the yearbook and student newspaper, in addition to serving a term as president of the school’s Women’s Athletic Association, all while working toward a degree in public policy. 

Kim credits her student-athlete experience with teaching her how to multi-task and get along with many different types of people.

“I was lucky enough to be the captain of some of my teams, and that opportunity helps me now in terms of managing people,” she said. “As a manager, ultimately your job is to take a bunch of people who all have different agendas and get them moving in the same direction. Having had that early experience as a team captain at age 16 or 17 was tremendous for me.”

Following her graduation in 1990, Kim embarked upon a career in Major League Baseball with an internship that after one year led to a fulltime position as special projects analyst job with the Chicago White Sox. At age 29, she became the youngest person, and one of only three females to hold an assistant general manager position, when she was hired in that capacity by the New York Yankees. Three years later she moved across the country to take that same position with the Los Angeles Dodgers and served as the club’s vice president and assistant general manager.

In 2011, Kim joined the Major League Baseball Commissioner’s Office back in New York City as Senior Vice President of Baseball Operations. In this position, Kim oversees all international baseball operations and works closely with the front offices of the league’s 30 clubs.

In that role, Kim has helped shatter stereotypes within what has traditionally been a predominantly male field. Prior to her current job in the MLB Commissioner’s Office, Kim interviewed for general manager positions with the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Seattle Mariners and the San Diego Padres.

“One of the things I’m most proud of is a quote I saw in a newspaper about five or six years ago,” she said. “A reporter was interviewing the owner of a club about an open general manager position and asked the owner if the new GM would be able to pick his own staff. The owner said, ‘Yes, he or she will have the freedom to do that.’ And I thought, ‘Wow. I’ve had a part in being able to change a way of thinking.’” 

Even in the face of such achievements and accolades, Kim’s personal definition of success remains straightforward.

“To me, being successful means being happy with who you are and what you’ve accomplished,” she said. “If you can maintain a sense of humor, sleep well at night, and feel good about looking at yourself in the mirror, you’re doing ok.”

Biography

Kim Ng
Senior Vice President of Baseball Operations for Major League Baseball

Hometown: Queens, New York City

Current city: Lower Manhattan, New York City

School: Bachelor’s degree in public policy, University of Chicago, 1990

College sport: Softball

Fun fact: Kim once made an eagle (2-under-par for the hole) on a golf course built by Walter O'Malley, the former owner of the Dodgers.  Jackie Robinson, the first African-American to play in Major League Baseball in the modern era, faced the same discrimination in golf as he did in baseball and often played the course where Kim scored her eagle.

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