Kim Ng started her baseball career straight out of the University of Chicago as an intern for the Chicago White Sox. After rising to take over arbitration duties with the Sox, she took a job with the AL league office. Ng then spent four years with the New York Yankees as an assistant GM, where at age 29 she was the youngest in that position in baseball when hired. After completing her second year as vice president and assistant GM for the Los Angeles Dodgers, she's now one of only two women to hold such a position in baseball operations and the highest-ranking Asian-American executive in the majors. She was mentioned as a candidate for several GM jobs this off-season. Ng recently chatted with BP about learning the business, taking lessons from different mentors, and what it takes to succeed in baseball.
Baseball Prospectus: How did you first get your foot in the door with the White Sox?
Jim Evans broke into Major League Baseball in 1972 as the youngest umpire ever at age 23. His career spanned 28 seasons, including 18 as a crew chief. He umpired four World Series, eight League Championship Series, three All-Star games, and was the plate umpire for Nolan Ryan's first no-hitter. Currently, Jim is the owner and chief instructor of the leading professional umpire-training academy, the Jim Evans Academy of Professional Umpiring, founded in 1989. He recently chatted with BP about his career in the bigs, the intricacies of the rule book, and a few dustups with ornery managers.
Baseball Prospectus: How did you get started as an umpire? What drew you to that career?
Jim Evans: As a youngster, I played in Little League, Pony League, and all sorts of amateur baseball programs growing up. I was a catcher and got to know the umpires pretty well. I was very curious and was always asking lots of questions. When I was 14, I played in a summer league. One night the chief umpire asked me if I would like to try umpiring. There was a Little League tournament coming up and he needed more umpires than he had. Since I was a catcher, he figured I had a pretty good idea of the strike zone. That first Saturday I ever umpired, I worked five games and loved every minute of it. The managers thought I had a good strike zone and the players liked the way I hustled. Looking back on those games, I probably hustled out of position as much as I hustled into position since I really never had any real training. I was working on instincts alone. My first experiences umpiring were very positive and the $3 a game were icing on the cake. I was still playing two nights a week. With encouragement from the chief umpire, I started umpiring the nights I wasn't playing. I reached the point where I actually enjoyed the umpiring more than playing.
The Snakes bury John Patterson, the Red Sox sort through a batch of soft tossers, the Marlins vie for a 25-catcher roster, and the Devil Rays solve all their problems by grabbing Al Martin and Damion Easley.
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Mark Quinn, Bruce Chen and Rob Bell still dishing out torment, Benny Agbayani peddling his Hawaiian Punch to the wrong team, Dan O'Dowd shopping Helton for an impulse control device to be named later, and the Dodgers messing with the wrong Alvarez.
Now that Davey Johnson's pink
slip has surfaced from a long lurk in the Dodgers' interoffice mail, there
are five managers out of work. Within
the next couple of weeks, we'll probably see Jimy Williams and Jim Fregosi
join the list. While it makes for nifty trivia that no manager was fired
in-season, the firings mean something slightly different for each of the
teams. The usual crocodile tears are being shed for the public's benefit
about how Buck Showalter, Gene Lamont, Terry Francona and Jack McKeon all
deserve better, but what are the really important elements of these firings,
and the hirings yet to come? And how much recycling are we going to have
accept this time around?
If Jack McKeon was cranky enough to sue over the question of whether or not
he was fired because of age discrimination, his dismissal would be a
particularly interesting case. If Jim Bowden ends up selecting Bob Boone as
McKeon's replacement, it would be Bowden who would have given greater
evidence of age-related handicaps like memory loss. Has everyone forgotten
Boone's ineptitude as a manager during his stints with Tacoma and Kansas
City? There's a hint of a glaucoma problem here if Boone gets the job, at
least as far as what George Bush called "the vision thing." Firing
the oft-recycled McKeon for someone who hasn't demonstrated any core
competency to deserve recycling strikes me as poor judgment on a par with
acquiring Fonzie Bichette or Ruben Sierra. On a similar level of
irrelevance, Bowden is supposed to be considering Hal McRae, last seen as
the Phillies' hitting coach. I don't know what the fascination with
uninspired and uninspiring ex-Royals managers represents, but it isn't a
good thing. Why not dig up Duke Wathan? If the objective is to bring back
Davey Johnson, that's fine, but if the choices are limited to Ken Griffey's
dad and some ex-Royal flops, then Bowden isn't rating the job as one with
any real importance.