Justine Siegal made MLB history Tuesday, as the Oakland Athletics announced she would serve as a guest instructor for their Instructional League club, making her the first woman to coach in big league history.
"It's a dream come true," Siegal said, per Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle. "The A's are a first-class organization, and it will be an honor to wear their uniform."
Siegal, 40, has completed the Major League Scouting Bureau school and has her Ph.D. in sport and exercise psychology. Her duties will include "a little bit of everything," ranging from hitting infield practice to offering her knowledge in meetings, according to Athletics assistant general manager David Forst, per Slusser.
"As a rookie coach, I expect to hit a lot of fungos, throw a lot of batting practice and help out wherever they want me to help," Siegal told Slusser. "And I do like talking about life skills—I like to help people achieve their life goals."
Siegal's hiring continues an upward trend for women in men's professional sports. The San Antonio Spurs made history by hiring Becky Hammon as an assistant coach, and the former WNBAer led the Spurs' summer league team to a championship in July. The Sacramento Kings followed suit by hiring Hall of Famer Nancy Lieberman to serve as an assistant under head coach George Karl this summer.
Siegal's situation is perhaps most comparable to that of Jen Welter, who served as a coaching intern with the Arizona Cardinals during training camp. Like Welter, Siegal was not hired for a permanent position but as temporary help during a time when a team needs all hands on deck.
"Justine knows that nothing has been promised, but we're not ruling that out," Forst said of a full-time position.
That leaves the NHL as the only major professional sports league that has not had a female coach.
The Athletics previously employed Kate Greenthal in their scouting department from 2012 to 2014, and this hire shows they're still among the most progressive organizations in baseball. Even if Siegal's just a guest instructor, this is progress worth celebrating and, hopefully, a sign of things to come.
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