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Diamondbacks minor league affiliate promotes woman to become team’s manager

The Hillsboro Hops, the High-A affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks, have promoted Ronnie Gajownik to be their manager for the 2023 season.

Gajownik is the second woman to be a manager in professional baseball — the New York Yankees’ Low-A Tampa Tarpons hired Rachel Balkovec to manage their club last year. 

Gajownik is now is the first woman to be a manager at the High-A level.

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The Arizona Diamondbacks logo is seen during a game between the Chicago Cubs and the Diamondbacks at Chase Field in Phoenix on April 26, 2019.
(Kevin Abele/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

“It feels great to this opportunity, especially with the Diamondbacks,” Gajownik said in a statement. “They saw my potential in me as a coach and as a person, and then obviously taking that chance with me last year. So this opportunity means a lot to me. Hopefully, everybody who’s been involved with me and also hopefully all the little girls and the women who are seeing this know that if you’re qualified, you can do it. And… that’s all you need to be. If you’re qualified, you can go ahead and do whatever it is you’re passionate about.”

“On behalf of the entire organization, we congratulate Ronnie on this significant milestone as she becomes the second female team manager in Minor League Baseball and at the highest developmental level,” said Arizona’s team president and CEO Derrick Hall. “We look forward to witnessing her continued growth within player development as she shapes and develops the future stars of the D-backs, while continuing to be a tremendous point of pride for the enterprise.”

Diamondbacks farm director Josh Barfield cited Gajownik’s leadership qualities and experience with baseball as to why she got the job. She served as a first base coach for the Double-A Amarillo Sod Poodles last year after original first base coach Javier Colina needed surgery.

General view of Chase Field in Phoenix before a game between the St. Louis Cardinals and the Arizona Diamondbacks on May 29, 2021.

General view of Chase Field in Phoenix before a game between the St. Louis Cardinals and the Arizona Diamondbacks on May 29, 2021.
(Ralph Freso/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

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“It was just her knowledge of the game,” Barfield said. “She had a playing background. And the way she’s able to communicate — the hunger she possessed, the desire to learn and grow — it just all stood out.”

Gajownik spent the 2021 season as a video assistant with Hillsboro and won a gold medal at the 2015 Pan-American as part of Team USA’s women’s baseball team. Last fall, she coached the Salt River Rafters in the Arizona Fall League.

“She went out there and it took her about two seconds to fit right into the group,” Barfield added of Gajownik joining the Double-A staff at the last minute last year. “She did a great job working with the guys in Amarillo. 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. But I also think they’re incredible connectors and she’s definitely one of those. She shows leadership, she shows initiative.”

A detailed view of the Arizona Diamondbacks logo on a hat worn by a player before a game against the San Francisco Giants at Oracle Park in San Francisco on Aug. 23, 2020.

A detailed view of the Arizona Diamondbacks logo on a hat worn by a player before a game against the San Francisco Giants at Oracle Park in San Francisco on Aug. 23, 2020.
(Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

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“I know that if my dad took me out of school on a Wednesday and we went to a baseball game and I saw a female coach on the field, I know Thursday my life would have been changing in the trajectory of where I want it to go,” Gajownik said. “So the visibility aspect of it is huge, because, again, it’s showing little girls and showing women that we’re breaking the glass ceiling and we’re leaving breadcrumbs for everybody behind us for us just to keep adding on to it to see how far we can go.”

The Hops went 60-70 last season.

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