Blue Jays hire first female coach as Jaime Vieira joins minor-league staff

Newly-hired Blue Jays minor-league hitting coach Jaime Vieira, spotted here coaching the Humber Hawks softball team. (Courtesy Humber College)

TORONTO – The Toronto Blue Jays have hired Jaime Vieira as a minor-league hitting coach, making the Georgetown, Ont., native the first woman to coach in the organization.

Vieira, a former softball player and coach with the Humber Hawks who holds a Master of Science degree from York University, worked as a baseball operations research and development intern last year, helping prepare for the draft among other tasks.

She first joined the club in 2019 as a programs specialist with the Jays Care Foundation and was promoted to a programs specialist a year later after developing and running a series of events for coaches and players.

Where she ends up coaching this season wasn’t immediately clear as the club is still finalizing roles for its minor-league staff. But Vieira is the latest example of how accomplished women are unlocking doors to roles in the sport that until very recently had been exclusively for men.

On Sunday, Lindsey Adler of The Athletic reported that Rachel Balkovec will manage the New York Yankees’ low-A affiliate in Tampa, a first in affiliated pro baseball. Balkovec originally joined the Yankees organization as a minor-league hitting coach in 2019, having previously worked as a strength and conditioning coach in the St. Louis Cardinals and Houston Astros systems.

In 2020, the San Francisco Giants made Alyssa Nakken the first full-time female coach in the majors when she was added as a coaching assistant on Gabe Kapler’s staff, while later that year Kim Ng became the first woman GM when the Miami Marlins handed her the club’s reins.

Late in 2017, Nikki Huffman was hired by the Blue Jays as their head athletic trainer, becoming only the second woman to serve in the role in of North American’s four major sports leagues.

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