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Diamonds Are This Girl's Best Friend

July 14, 2002|JANET WISCOMBE

As one of a handful of women in major-league baseball management, Kim Ng is living her wildest dream. Vice president and assistant general manager for the Los Angeles Dodgers, Ng, 33, was hired in December by the team's general manager, Dan Evans, whom she knew when she worked for the Chicago White Sox from 1990-96. Ng moved to town from New York, where she spent four years as assistant general manager for the Yankees. We asked for a conference on the mound.

Women don't often go into pro baseball. Why did you?

I was exposed to sports when I was young. I grew up the oldest of five girls. My family is Chinese, and I was raised by my mom and my grandmother. My dad died when I was 11. I come from a long line of very strong women. It's in the blood. I played varsity softball at the University of Chicago. [Ng was voted most valuable player as a senior.] The stereotype of women in sports is that they aren't tough enough, and they don't know the game.

You have a strong background in transaction rules and payroll matters. How did you learn your skills?

In college I studied economics and public policy. My parents thought I'd go into the financial world. My dad was a financial analyst, my mom a banker. But when I graduated from college, I couldn't get a job in the financial world. Thank goodness. A coach told me about an internship with the White Sox. It paid $750 a month. I was thrilled.

During the baseball season, you are known to work 90-hour work weeks. What is your role? My first big task was negotiations. Then I worked on reorganizing the salary structure, taking a look at the day-to-day operation. Not revamping it. Tweaking it. I manage the daily operations, such as monitoring budgets and payroll and tracking our player development system.

What do you like best about your job?

It's fun. I love coming to the ballpark to work. I like that there are wins and losses at the end of the day. There's always room to improve. You never stop trying. I'm interested in sports in general-what motivates people, how to get someone to perform at their absolute peak of consistency.

What makes the culture of baseball and its players unique among the various professional sports?

They are fun-loving. Baseball is about respect. That's the unwritten code. You hit a home run and you don't gaze out at the fans. You're supposed to trot down the line. You don't see anything like touchdown dances. It's the opposite of showing up the other guy. It's about humility.

Is your husband [a freelance writer and editor] a fan?

No. We've been married five years and he does come to games occasionally. But if I weren't here, he probably wouldn't go.

Who are the people in sports you most admire?

Martina Navratilova, because she changed the game of tennis and she did what she did for so long. She changed the way women athletes are perceived. Because of her, people saw how developed a woman athlete could be physically, mentally, personally. She took a lot of heat. She made it OK for women to be the best they can be physically.

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