Hillsboro Hops, the High-A affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks, has promoted Ronnie Gajownik to be their manager for the 2023 season.
Gajownik is the second woman to be a manager in professional baseball: The New York Yankees’ Low-A Tampa Tarpons hired Rachel Balkovec to manage their club last year.
Gajownik is now the first woman to be a manager at the High-A level.
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“This opportunity feels great, especially with the Diamondbacks,” Gajownik said in a statement. “They saw my potential as a coach and as a person, and then obviously they took a chance on me last year. So this opportunity means a lot to me. Hopefully everyone who has been involved with me and also all the girls and women who are watching This they know that if you’re qualified, you can do it. And… that’s all you need to be. If you’re qualified, you can go ahead and do whatever you’re passionate about.”
“On behalf of the entire organization, we congratulate Ronnie on this important milestone as she becomes the second female team manager in minor league baseball and at the highest level of development,” said the president and CEO of the Arizona team, Derrick Hall. “We look forward to witnessing her continued growth in player development as she shapes and develops the future stars of the D-backs, while she continues to be a tremendous source of pride for the company.”
Diamondbacks farm manager Josh Barfield cited Gajownik’s leadership qualities and baseball experience to explain why he got the job. He served as the first base coach for the Double-A Amarillo Sod Poodles last year after original first base coach Javier Colina required surgery.
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“It was just his knowledge of the game,” Barfield said. “He had experience in the game. And the way he’s able to communicate, the hunger that he possessed, the desire to learn and grow, it all stood out.”
Gajownik spent the 2021 season as a video assistant with Hillsboro and won a gold medal at the 2015 Pan American Games as part of the Team USA women’s baseball team. Last fall, she coached the Salt River Rafters in the Arizona Fall League.
“She came out and it took her about two seconds to fit into the group,” Barfield added of Gajownik who joined the Double-A staff at the last minute last year. “She did a great job working with the guys in Amarillo. She has such an ease with her, the way she connects with people. I think some of the best coaches, they obviously have good content and she has that. But I also think they’re amazing connectors and she’s definitely one of them. Show leadership, show initiative.”
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“I know if my dad took me out of school on a Wednesday and we went to a baseball game and I saw a coach on the field, I know by Thursday my life would have been changing on the trajectory that I want it to be.” go,” said Gajownik. “So the visibility aspect is huge, because, again, it shows little girls and women that we’re breaking through the glass ceiling and we’re leaving breadcrumbs for everybody behind us just to keep going.” adding to see how far we can go.”
The Hops went 60-70 last season.