Bianca Smith will make history when Major League Baseball returns for spring training in February.
On Monday, the Boston Red Sox announced that it had hired Smith, a native of Sewickley, Pennsylvania, as a minor league coach. With that, Smith will be the first Black woman to ever coach in the history of professional baseball.
Bianca Smith will be joining the #RedSox organization this season, making her the first Black woman to coach in professional baseball history.
“I’m still wrapping my head around it,” Smith said in an interview MLB Network on Monday. “I probably won’t really have it sink in until I’m actually there. But I think it’s a great opportunity also to just kind of inspire other women who are interested in this game. This is not really something I thought about 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’s role with the Red Sox will place her at its training facility in Fort Myers, Florida, where she will be working with position players, primarily. Until that work begins, however, Smith will continue working with the baseball team at Carroll University in Wausheka, Wisconsin, where she served as the hitting coordinator.
As she pointed out in her interview with MLB Network, however, her impressive resume stretches far beyond Carroll. After playing softball for Dartmouth, where she earned her undergraduate degree, she was the director of baseball operations at Case Western Reserve University from 2013-2017. She simultaneously earned a JD/MBA degree in sports law and sports management at Case Western Reserve.
Smith additionally served as an assistant coach for the Dallas University baseball team, and interned with the baseball operations departments of the Texas Rangers and Cincinnati Reds.
With Carroll, though, Smith says she ran the entire technological side that has taken over modern-day baseball programs. With that, she feels she has gained the tools to both understand the numbers and analytics themselves, while also understanding how to deliver that information to players in an easily digestible way.
“Really, new school coaching is just old school but using different terminology, using actual metrics — and I’ve had players, they don’t really care what their metrics are, they just want to get better,” Smith said. “So I can still use those metrics. I can still use those numbers to keep track of their progress, see how they’re doing and then make adjustments as needed without bogging them down with the actual numbers. That’s perfectly fine, and that’s something I think I’ve gotten very good at is being able to change the terminology as needed depending on what player I have and then making it work for them.”
Smith feels that she can take those lessons that she’s learned along the way, then, and apply them to her new job with Boston.
“Preparing for the season, I’m doing exactly what I’ve been doing for the last several years,” Smith said. “Just continue to keep learning, continue to keep researching, doing as much as I can. I’ve still got several weeks here at Carroll, so I get to work with my players here, so that’ll be great preparation. I’m going to be nonstop coaching for about the next seven or eight weeks before I get started with the Red Sox.”
“I think it’s a great opportunity to inspire other women that are interested in this game.”
Mike Persak, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette