Ronnie Gajownik was hired in January by the Arizona Diamondbacks to manage their High-A affiliate, the Hillsboro Hops. Gajownik made history on Thursday(April 6, 2o23) when she coached her first game for the Diamondbacks and was the first female manager in High-A baseball.
“A lot of emotions. I really didn’t eat today, so a little bit nervous,” Gajownik told MLB.com after her first game, a 9-2 loss to host Tri-City.”
“I care about the staff and these guys and what’s best for them, so definitely nerves, but good nerves. So, I can take a little bit more of a breath after this. It’s just great to see and to be part of that change that is really kicking the door down.”
In 2015, Gajownik was a U.S. women’s baseball team member that won a gold medal at the Pan American Games. She has been an assistant softball coach at Liberty and UMass-Amherst and played collegiate softball at the University of South Florida.
In 2021, she became a video assistant with the Arizona Diamondbacks at its Hillsboro headquarters. Initially, she was supposed to teach in the rookie-level Arizona Complex League. Still, due to an injury, she was moved to the Double-A level and took over first base for Amarillo.
“She did a great job working with the guys in Amarillo,” Arizona farm director Josh Barfield told MLB.com in January.
“She’s just got such an ease about her, the way she connects with people. I think some of the best coaches — obviously, they have good content, and she has that. … She shows leadership, she shows initiative.”
Gajownik is the first woman to manage a High-A level minors. Last year, Rachel Balkovec became the first female minor league manager when she took charge of the New York Yankees’ Low-A club in Tampa.
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“It means a lot,” Gajownik told MLB.com. “It shows how much time, effort, blood, sweat, and tears of all those years of grinding on the ball field and then getting myself into a position that I needed to get myself into to get myself here.”
“It’s been a lot lately, but I know that probably tonight, and the next couple of months, when I settle down a little bit more into that, I’ll be able to truly reflect and really take it in.”
She went on to say, “I honestly really haven’t given it any thought yet. Just because we’re so focused on the game, who’s coming in, when and getting all this stuff done, I know that tonight when I finally get back to my hotel room, I’ll finally be able to take that breath and understand how big of a moment it was for me, and then also too, just for the future of women in professional sports.”
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