When Bianca Smith officially joins the Boston Red Sox organization this spring as a minor league coach, she will be the first Black woman to serve as a coach in professional baseball. She will be at the Red Sox’s player development complex in Fort Myers, Fla., working primarily with position players.
“My goal is to coach, to help develop our players,” Smith said. “Being on the field will hopefully inspire other women who are interested in this game and hadn’t thought coaching was a route for them.”
Smith followed in her parents’ footsteps and attended Dartmouth College, playing on its softball team. With an eye toward becoming a baseball general manager, she then did a joint law/MBA program at Case Western Reserve University, working as director of baseball operations while at the university. She is currently assistant athletic director for compliance and administration and assistant baseball coach at Carroll University in Wisconsin. She also coaches several travel ball teams.
“I kind of gave into the expectations that I had for myself as well as external expectations of becoming a general manager since I did go to law and business school,” Smith said. “I realized I was not happy being in the office all the time. I wasn’t happy being behind a computer and not being able to actually work on the field, work with the players, get to be involved with the in-game strategy.
“I finally accepted to myself that coaching was what I wanted to do, and despite what everybody else expected and thought of me, I was going to go the route that made me happy,” she added.
To become a coach, Smith’s plan was to take whatever opportunities came her way. She didn’t say no to an opportunity to coach, even if it was an unpaid position.
“I had to find another paid job to do as well,” said Smith. “I was going to keep plugging at it, keep trying, get as much experience as I could, build my resume as much as I could to the point where people couldn’t say no anymore.”
MLB’s greatest player diversity was decades ago. Today, there is little African American representation on team rosters, but MLB wants to create new opportunities. Smith knows she can be a part of that as a minor league coach.
“Seeing somebody who looks like me working in the game, having played softball and baseball, is the first step,” said Smith. “I hope to eventually get to the point where I can actually travel around the country during the offseason doing camps and clinics for underrepresented children.
“Something to keep the interest up and provide opportunities for them to learn the game and hopefully fall in love with it and then follow it after the clinic is done,” she added. “When you understand the strategy behind baseball and all the nuances, it’s a lot more interesting.”