First female manager in Lansing history earns first victory

August 18th, 2022
Veronica Alvarez is the first woman to manage a game in Lansing Lugnuts history.Lansing Lugnuts

The Lansing Lugnuts had never had a woman serve on their coaching staff, let alone manage a game. Veronica Alvarez broke those barriers in one fell swoop.

Filling in for manager Phil Pohl while he’s on vacation, Alvarez earned her first affiliated baseball managerial victory with the Athletics’ High-A affiliate in its 6-3 win over Great Lakes on Wednesday.

Alvarez has been a coach during Spring Training with Oakland since 2019, and it's the relationships that Alvarez has built over the course of several years that gave her this opportunity.

"It does feel natural for me. It's a natural growth process. They give me all the opportunities to succeed," Alvarez said. "It feels really good to be a part of this organization and to have built those relationships and have those opportunities like this where I'm able to lead a team to a win."

Alvarez made her official managerial debut on Tuesday -- Lansing dropped the contest 2-1 -- and will remain as the skipper for the duration of the Lugnuts’ six-game series.

Alvarez had to flex her managerial chops early into Wednesday's contest, dipping into the Lugnuts bullpen with one away in the fourth inning after the Loons took a 2-1 lead on three hits. Lansing used four hurlers in relief to help secure the victory, with the group surrendering just one earned run over the final 17 outs. The Lugnuts outscored the Dodgers affiliate 5-1 across the last five innings.

"It feels really good to win," Alvarez said. "I always try to play to win. We had some quality at-bats and got some runners moving, which yesterday we didn't have as much. That was a good thing to be a part of."

It may have been Alvarez’s first Minor League victory, but it’s not her first time at the helm of a ballclub. Alvarez is the manager of the U.S. women’s national baseball team, ranked fourth in the world, which recently bested Canada 3-2 in a friendly best-of-five series in Ontario. She also served as an instructor at the inaugural Girls Baseball Elite Development Invitational in July and has been an instructor at the MLB Trailblazer Series since it began in 2017.

For Alvarez, it doesn't matter whether the people she's coaching are men or women. At the end of the day, she relishes being both a role model and a leader.

"A major part of everything I do and why I do it is the significance of it; the importance of representation and what that could mean to a little girl who sees me in that role," Alvarez said. "At the same time, I feel so comfortable on the field that it feels normal just to be out there and be competing and to be leading, whether it's men or women."

Alvarez joins the growing list of women who are making waves throughout baseball’s coaching sphere: Rachel Balkovec was named the first full-time female manager in affiliated baseball history for the Tampa Tarpons earlier this year. Alyssa Nakken became the first full-time female coach in MLB history for the Giants in 2020 and appeared as the first female on-field coach in MLB history this season. Kim Ng became baseball’s first female general manager that same year.

"It all comes from the confidence that the organization has in me and the relationships that I've built with the people in it -- the coaching staff that I've had supporting me, and the players the same way," Alvarez said. "They treat me as if I'm just a coach in baseball. They don't treat me any differently, but they do see it and they get excited for me too. It was nice to have them all congratulate me."

No matter what the opportunity is or what context it comes in, Alvarez's focus is always on one thing: making her players better.

"The win is for them," Alvarez said. "In all of its significance, I'm also here to be my best so that they can be their best and they can be successful in what their goals are."