As newly hired Kim Ng breaks barriers as the first woman and the first East Asian American general manager in major-league baseball, a racist attack made against her 17 years ago is resurfacing in sports media.
Ng, 51, who was hired last week by the Miami Marlins, is the first female general manager in any of the four major U.S. sports leagues. Her road in baseball has been a long one, and in 2003, when she worked as an assistant general manager for the Los Angeles Dodgers, she was the victim of a racist attack by pitcher-turned-executive Bill Singer. The story bubbled up Tuesday after an ESPN podcast recalled initial reporting on the incident.
According to eyewitness accounts of the incident, Singer, who was 59 and working as an executive with the New York Mets at the time, approached Ng in a hotel bar during general managers' meetings and repeatedly asked her questions like "What are you doing here?" and "Where are you from?" Singer also mocked her Chinese heritage with a fake accent.
"His conduct was inexcusable and extremely disappointing," Dan Evans, the Dodgers' general manager at the time, told The New York Times after the incident. "Kim handled the entire situation in a professional manner, and we addressed the matter with the New York Mets the next day."
Neither Singer nor Ng responded to requests for comment.
Singer apologized after the situation became public in a statement provided to multiple news outlets by the Mets.
"I am embarrassed by what I said when I met with Ng on Tuesday evening," Singer said. "My comments were truly inappropriate and I'm truly sorry. I have apologized to her and hope she will forgive me."
He was fired shortly thereafter but went on to work as a scout for the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Washington Nationals.
In a Zoom news conference Monday, Ng spoke to reporters about what it meant to her to persist through years of trying to work her way up in a system that often felt stacked against her. After the hourlong meeting, MLB Network analyst Ron Darling put it bluntly.
"If you look at her résumé, she should have been on the fast track" to become a major-league general manager, Darling, a former Mets pitcher, told viewers. "She was on the slow track, quite frankly, because she was an Asian woman. So it changes all of that today with this hire."
Ng told reporters what the moment meant to her when it finally came.
"I got calls and text messages from guys that I've known over the years who were just so excited to tell their daughters and wives," she said. "And then I got voicemails from friends, from front office executives, with tears, just so happy that I had broken through. But really, I think [the reactions were] more for the sport and more about what it meant for us in society."