Los Angeles Dodgers Lead the Way, Break Yet Another Barrier

Vance PennCorrespondent INovember 3, 2011

The Los Angeles Dodgers have been the hammer to the sports world's glass social issues for nearly 70 years. 

In 1947 Jackie Robinson broke baseball's color barrier, and 1958 saw the Dodgers move across the country to Los Angeles. Fast-forward to 1983 when Fernando Valenzuela became the first Mexican-born pitcher to star in MLB

Hideo Nomo's successful transition in 1995 paved the way for other Japanese stars to make the move to America. Finally, in 2004, Kim Ng became the first female assistant general manager in MLB.

The Dodgers have never seen a barrier that wasn't worth breaking if it was good for the team.

On Monday, Sue Falsone was named the head athletic trainer for the Los Angeles Dodgers, making her the first female to hold that position in any of the four major US sports leagues. She effectively broke through what many had felt to be an impenetrable glass ceiling.

To ensure that the ceiling wasn't just cracked enough for Falsone to slip through, the Dodgers also hired Nancy Patterson as their assistant athletic trainer.

Falsone has been a member of the Dodgers staff since 2007, when she was hired as the team's physical therapy consultant, and again in 2008 when she accepted the job on a full-time basis, a position which she held until 2010 before again becoming a consultant in 2011.

Female certified athletic trainers (ATCs) make up over half of the National Athletic Trainers' Association's nearly 30,000 members. Until Monday, the only female to serve full-time on a major league team's sports medicine staff was Ariko Iso, who served as an assistant athletic trainer on the NFL's Pittsburgh Steelers staff from 2002 to 2010. Ariko left the Steelers to become the head football athletic trainer at Oregon State University in 2011.

What the Dodgers did on Monday certainly wasn't a Halloween trick, but for Falsone, Patterson and many other female ATCs who dream of working in major league sports, it certainly was a treat.