The Boston Red Sox have announced that the team will hire Bianca Smith as a coach in its minor league development system, making her the first Black woman coach in the history of Major League Baseball.
The 29-year-old will coach minor league players in Fort Myers, Florida, with a concentration on position players, a team official told The Boston Globe.
“She was a great candidate coming in,” Ben Crockett, Red Sox vice president of player development, said. “She’s had some really interesting experiences and has been passionate about growing her skillset and development herself.”
Smith brings a trove of baseball knowledge to her new role. From 2010 to 2012, she played on the softball team at Dartmouth College, according to The Globe. Following her collegiate career, Smith was named the director of baseball operations at Case Western Reserve University in 2013 and later served on the University of Dallas baseball team as an assistant coach in 2018.
The Dartmouth grad got her first introduction to the major leagues in 2017, interning for the Texas Rangers in their baseball operations department, according to her Linkedin profile. In 2019, Smith joined the Cincinnati Reds team and spent time working with the Reds’ youth program.
Currently, she works as an assistant baseball coach and hitting coordinator at Carroll University in Wisconsin. Stein Rear, Carroll’s head coach, said Smith has great qualities to succeed in coaching baseball and is especially skilled at relationship-building.
“She relates really well to our guys,” he said. “She came in, and she got to work and connected with our guys and stole a lot of one-on-one work with them. So she’s built a lot of good relationships with them, which I think is a great quality. She’s highly motivated to continue with her education.”
Rear also noted that Smith brings a fresh and innovative approach to the game and isn’t afraid of implementing new tech into her program.
“I’m 45 years old,” he said. “So, you know, when she brings in some of that technology, she brings a lot to the table that isn’t necessarily my strength. So it was good to have that piece for us, as well."
For Rear, Smith’s greatest strength as a coach is that she’s an exemplary person who can help build up an organization’s culture.
“Just from a personality standpoint, she’s a great person, she’s fit right in, you know, there’s been no awkwardness. She fits in just like any other coach would. And it’s been a great opportunity to get to work with her," he said.
Although MLB officials are working to reverse the league’s troubled past and repair its ties to the Black community, only one minority hire was made this winter despite eight general management positions becoming vacant on teams, according to USA Today
Chicago White Sox executive vice president Ken Williams, the only Black male executive on an MLB team, was hired as the White Sox's general manager 20 years ago. Since then, only three other Black general managers have been hired throughout the MLB during his tenure.
In December, the Negro Leagues were officially recognized by the MLB, making way for dozens of Black pioneers who helped contribute to the sport. Rob Manfred, the commissioner of the MLB, said the recognition is "correcting a longtime oversight" in the sport's history.