Why Alyssa Nakken felt ‘sense of pride' as Giants first base coach


Alyssa Nakken made history Monday and doubled up on Tuesday. But on a video call with reporters to discuss her last two days as the Giants' first base coach, the first on-field female coach in MLB history said her "wow moment" did not take place between the lines.

Nakken said she was asked to take part in two meetings to tell players that they had made the Opening Day roster, one before the game at Oracle Park and one during it. 

"That to me was such an amazing thing to do, to tell those guys and look them in the eye and say, 'You're coming to LA, you're on the Opening Day roster,' " Nakken said, smiling. 

Nakken will be on that flight, too, and at this rate she might be calling down to the bullpen to get relievers loose by the time the Giants play their opener. Her rise has been meteoric, but it didn't stop when Gabe Kapler plucked her from the front office and made her the first woman to join a staff as a full-time coach. 

The Giants have thrown more and more at Nakken. She has responded, and on Tuesday, a few hours after she coached first base in the final innings of an exhibition game, she ran out there for the bottom of the first inning.

It was a normal night from there. She exchanged pleasantries with A's manager Bob Melvin. Nakken chatted with Hunter Pence after he hit a single. She kept track of signs and timed the pitcher's moves, leaning on hours upon hours of research she did during the hiatus with fellow coaches Antoan Richardson and Nick Ortiz. 

Richardson is the normal first base coach and will be there Thursday night at Dodger Stadium. But he saw an opportunity to get Nakken, his partner in so many drills over the last five months, additional work. Richardson and Kapler decided to put Nakken on the field for these two games. 

"I think I'm still wrapping my head around it all," Nakken said. "I always prepared and stayed ready for whatever position I would be put in. We talked about this opportunity before and it kind of came up quick and I was ready to go. It's an awesome feeling to be out there. All camp, I've gotten a chance to really work with the players a lot more, especially on the baserunning front. You feel a sense of pride to be out there. For me, personally, it's the best place to watch a game, that's for sure."

It wouldn't surprise anyone to see Nakken one day grab that role full-time, or another one. Richardson, also in his first year in the big leagues, looks headed for much bigger things as well. He has taken on a leadership role at a young age, leading the team's outfielders and bringing Nakken along every step of the way. 

The two are inseparable during workouts, and Nakken said that started with her first day in the organization. She met Richardson at the minor league facility in Scottsdale in January, and he immediately showed her around the park and introduced her to everyone they came across. That continued through spring training and now during the summer.

"We're brother and sister, and brothers and sisters challenge each other," Nakken said. "He and I have had some of the most challenging conversations that I've ever had in my life. I grow so much from those, it's amazing. I wish everybody could have somebody in their life like that."

[RELATED: Pence, Adam Jones salute Nakken making history]

Nakken now is a part of daily life for Giants fans, particularly a generation of young girls who can see that there's a spot for them in Major League Baseball. Her appearance Monday went viral, with women in sports across the country congratulating her on social media. 

The Giants coach said she was nervous on Monday, but the butterflies floated away a bit when she noticed there weren't 40,000 people in the stands. Nakken said she eased into the role when she saw "cutout people sitting in the stands with stuffed animals." A night later, the nerves were completely gone. 

"Oracle Park is home," she said. "I've felt comfortable on this field for six years now. Tonight the butterflies were pretty nonexistent."

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