Proving people wrong may as well be Bianca Smith’s catchphrase. Her path into one of sport’s most exclusive clubs was paved with anything but gold.
“If people think, it’s just because I’m a woman, well, then I’ll just go out and prove them wrong,” Smith told “CBS This Morning Saturday” co-host Dana Jacobson.
The Red Sox announced Monday that they’ve hired Smith to become a minor league coach, making her the first Black woman to take the diamond as a professional baseball coach.
The 29-year-old will join the Boston Red Sox organization as a minor league coach based at the team’s player development complex in Fort Meyers, Florida.
Smith’s love of the game stretches back to when she was just a little girl.
Her mother launched her interest, and some of her earliest memories are watching World Series games with her father.
Despite that passion, Smith didn’t see someone that looked like her on the field in the history of the sport.
“There’s also the idea that just because you don’t see it doesn’t mean you can’t do it because somebody has to be the first. Otherwise, it’s never going to happen,” Smith said.
She grew up playing soccer before turning to softball in high school. She was fast and talented but an injury during her senior year seemingly ended her chances of playing at Dartmouth University.
“I decided to cheer and started working for the Dartmouth baseball team and I ran into the softball coach going to visit the baseball coach, … and she just asked, ‘hey, do you want to try out for the team?’ … and I wasn’t going say no,” she said.
Smith’s love of the game developed as she starred on the Dartmouth softball team and the club baseball team.
She would go on to earn a dual business-law degree in sports law and sports management at Case Western Reserve University.
But while she was working as the team’s director of baseball operations, she had dreams of joining a baseball front office.
Smith would have internships in the Commissioner’s Office before going on to intern with two major league clubs. During this time, she worked eight jobs to pay for her apartment and at one point considered walking away from her dream until her parents became her voice of reason.
“Surprisingly, there are times where they even said, why don’t you just go ahead and take the bar, go practice law for a bit, but they saw how much I wanted to do this,” she said. “They saw the drive and the passion, how much I loved coaching. And they were willing to do whatever was necessary to help me.”
It was during this time that she realized her passion wasn’t in the office but on the field itself so she pivoted her career path.
Smith served as an assistant coach and hitting coordinator at Carroll University in Wisconsin before she got the historic call from the Red Sox.
“It means more now than it did before. This is not what I was thinking when I accepted the offer. When I accepted it, I was just thinking I get to coach. I knew it was going to be a pretty big deal,” Smith said. “But to me, this is just an opportunity to hopefully inspire other women, other women of color who are interested in this game, who might even have the idea that they want to coach.”
Smith believes her gender has been more of a challenge in baseball than her race but says that she can’t differentiate between the two because as soon as people see her, they see both.
Her hiring comes six decades after the Red Sox became the last major league baseball team to integrate. It also comes after the Miami Marlins made history when they named Kim Ng to become the first female general manager in November.
She will be one of a handful of women coaches—the first hired just last year. Smith says she looks forward to the day when women being hired to work for the league becomes more common.