Ronnie Gajownik of the Hillsboro Hops throws batting practice before the Hillsboro Hops against the Tri-City Dust Devils game at Gesa Stadium on Thursday, April 6, 2023 in Paseco, Washington. (Photo by Jared Ravich/MLB Photos via Getty Images)
By Leif Skodnick
World Baseball Network
It was just a High-A game, like so many others, but it was also a milestone on the road of progress and inclusivity in minor league baseball.
When the Hillsboro Hops, the High-A affiliate of the Arizona DiamondBacks located in Hillsboro, Oregon, fell 9-2 to the Tri-City Dust Devils in Northwest League action April 6, Ronnie Gajownik became the first woman to manage in High-A ball, as well as the first openly gay manager in professional baseball history, by helming the Hops Thursday night.
The Hops play a 140-game schedule in the Northwest League, which has six teams in British Columbia, Washington, and Oregon.
Gajownik, 29, was hired by the DiamondBacks to manage their High-A affiliate over the offseason. She served as the Hops video coordinator in 2021 before working as the first base coach for the DiamondBacks’ Double-A affiliate, the Amarillo Sod Poodles, last season.
She joins Rachel Balkovec, who manages the New York Yankees’ Low-A affiliate, the Tampa Tarpons, in the exclusive club of female managers in professional baseball.
Earlier this year, Gajownik served as the DiamondBacks bench coach for a split-squad spring training game against San Diego.
“It was awesome,” Gajownik told the Associated Press. “I didn’t realize how big of a moment it was until (pitching coach Brent Strom) told me in the fifth inning, he’s like, ‘They’re doing articles all over about you. You’re trending!’”
Gajownik, who played two years of softball at the University of South Florida, came out in 2018 and married her wife, Andrea, three years ago.