Bianca Smith has written her name in the history books after the Boston Red Sox announced her as a coach in its minor league system, making the 29-year-old the first Black woman coach in professional baseball history.
Smith, who previously served as an assistant baseball coach and hitting coordinator at Carroll University in Wisconsin, has been assigned to work with the Red Sox minor league team’s infielders at its facility in Fort Meyers, Florida, The Seattle Medium reported.
“The opportunity is amazing. I’m still wrapping my head around it. I probably won’t really have it sink in until I’m actually there,” Smith told MLB Network’s Hot Stove in an interview on Monday. “I think it’s a great opportunity also to kind of inspire other women who are interested in this game. This is not really something I thought about it when I was younger. I kind of fell into it being an athlete. So I’m excited to get that chance to show what I can do.”
Smith joins the Red Sox with tons of experience and an impressive resume, having also previously served as director of baseball operations at Case Western Reserve University between 2013 and 2017, and as an assistant coach at the University of Dallas in 2018, The Seattle Medium reported. A former softball player at Dartmouth between 2010 and 2012, Smith also already has a feel of the major league as she previously served as an intern for the Texas Rangers and Cincinnati Reds.
“She was a great candidate coming in,” Ben Crockett, Red Sox vice president of player development, told The Boston Globe. “She’s had some really interesting experiences and has been passionate about growing her skillset and development herself.”
Smith joins the likes of fellow professional female coaches in the minor level including Rachel Folden of the Chicago Cubs, Christina Whitlock of the St. Louis Cardinals, and Rachel Balkovec of the New York Yankees.
“I think it’s huge,” Robert Lewis Jr., founder of Boston-based program, The Base, told The Boston Globe. “I’m not going to lie to you, a Black woman, I mean, there’s all this symbolism that goes along with it. We all know, the Red Sox being the last team to sign an African-American. The one great thing that I loved about it was, you know, having looked at her credentials, this isn’t just somebody that has experience at the college level, she’s going in competent and qualified.”
Smith’s appointment is largely being seen as monumental because there have been reports and allegations of racist incidents at the Fenway Park, the home ballpark of the Red Sox, The Boston Medium reported. This was so much so that some fans reportedly unfurled an anti-racism banner which read: “Racism is as American as baseball” during a game at the ballpark in 2017.
Prior to that incident, former Baltimore Orioles star Adam Jones alleged he was called the n-word a “handful of times” and had a bag of peanuts thrown at him by fans during a game at the Fenway park. The Boston Red Sox apologized to him in the aftermath of the incident.