Thrilled to be back in baseball after spending two months on the global strategy team at Google, Katie Krall didn’t realize that her new job with the Red Sox was in some ways historic.
It took a tweet from The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier for it to dawn on her that this is quite a big deal.
A year ago, the Red Sox hired Bianca Smith as a Minor League coach. One year later, by hiring Krall as a player development coach at Double-A Portland, the Red Sox became the first MLB organization to have two female coaches.
“[Director of player development Brian Abraham] and I were even saying we didn't connect the dots that this was going to be historic until we saw Alex's tweet,” Krall said. “Obviously, he knew that I was a woman and that I was being hired in a coaching capacity, but we didn't realize it would be the first time in professional baseball that there would be two female coaches on a staff. So that's been phenomenal.”
The hiring of Krall by the Red Sox is the continuation of an encouraging trend in baseball of women receiving opportunities that were unprecedented not long ago.
On Jan. 11, Rachel Balkovec became the first female manager in affiliated pro baseball when the Yankees hired her for that post with Low-A Tampa. Kim Ng was named general manager of the Marlins in November 2020.
“I definitely think that, at a point, we will get to a place where women will just be hired. It won’t necessarily result in a Zoom call with reporters,” said Krall. “I think that would be phenomenal. I guess that would be the ultimate goal: that it doesn’t become newsworthy anymore.”
Krall hit the ground running this week in Fort Myers, Fla., participating in the team’s 2022 Winter Warm-up, a minicamp for 28 Boston prospects.
“We’ve called it the Spring Training for Spring Training,” Krall said. “So far it’s been awesome. I’m sad we have to go home on Friday.”
But Krall will be back once actual Spring Training comes around, and then, come April, she’ll be in Portland, Maine, realizing a dream she wasn’t sure was possible not so long ago.
“To be on the field, no. Absolutely not,” Krall said.
When Chris Stasio -- the manager of baseball development for the Red Sox -- told her it was very possible during her interview back in November, Krall became intrigued.
“I was even candid with Chris and I said, ‘Do you genuinely think that someone like me could be a candidate for this role? Just give it to me straight,’” Krall said. ‘“With the way that we want to really leverage the information we have in the front office and to bring it to the field, let’s have you talk to some more folks and let’s see if there’s a fit on both sides,’ [he said]. So previously I had never considered being in uniform. Even though there are many women taking that route, I had never thought about it personally.”
While Krall’s strength is in numbers and her ability to decipher them, she has a passion for baseball. The Chicago native often went to Cubs and White Sox games during her youth.
But make no mistake: Krall has paid her dues to reach this point. She worked in the MLB office for two years as an economics and operations coordinator. Then it was on to the Reds for two years as a baseball analyst.
When she decided to leave Cincinnati for Google, it was with the purpose of making herself more valuable in the baseball industry.
Perhaps she was already more valuable than she knew. The calls immediately started coming from MLB teams once word went out that she was no longer with the Reds.
“I think my memoir someday is gonna be, ‘Two Months At Google: My Life In Baseball,’” quipped Krall. “I spent a whopping two months at Google on their global strategy team. Really cool opportunity, had a phenomenal boss, really high-performing team.
“But I did miss baseball a great deal. And I think my intention always had been to leverage frameworks that I would learn at Google and big tech back to baseball someday. I more so saw it as more of a detour than a complete course alteration. I just didn't anticipate it would be so short, but I'm very glad to be here now.”
Krall is also in the process of earning an MBA from the University of Chicago. Her new job with the Red Sox won’t slow her down in that quest.
“Hopefully I'll graduate in the spring. The University of Chicago has dual modality classes. So some are in person, some are online,” said Krall. “I had my business and historical perspectives class the other night from my hotel room. We talked about Alexander Hamilton and the start of the United States. So yes, still on track to graduate and the Sox have been great about that, too. So were the Reds.”
Krall looks forward to the momentum continuing to surge for women in baseball.
“I think it's really about finding those mentors and those champions, the people who will really go out of their way to give you opportunities. And then once you get them, run with it,” Krall said. “The mantra I've always tried to embrace is, ‘spend your life studying for pop quizzes,’ because you don't know at what point you are going to get that chance to really leave your mark.
“And when you have that window of opportunity, I think women need to be ready and prepared. And then again, really being proactive in identifying where your passion is and not being discouraged if someone says, ‘It's not your time, it's not your place.’ If that's their idea, then make your own space.”