Boston Red Sox’s Bianca Smith promoted to full-time coaching position as Apple & MLB agree to a new partnership
History was made in January 2021 when Bianca Smith became the first black female coach in professional baseball history when she was hired by the Boston Red Sox.
I get to coach was her first thought when she got the call from the Boston Red Sox offering her a position with the organisation’s minor league coaching staff.
Smith started her Red Sox career at the franchise’s development facility in Fort Myers, Florida and worked in a range of coaching roles.
Ahead of the upcoming Major League Baseball (MLB) season, Smith is being promoted to a full-time coaching position with the Red Sox.
Following her appointment, Smith said she never believed the opportunity to coach would present itself.
“I’d never seen another Black woman coaching, especially in baseball. So it just never crossed my mind that that might be an opportunity,” she told WBUR’s Khari Thompson.
Smith said there were initially some teething problems but she has settled in well in the past 12 months.
“When they initially ordered uniforms, they were not prepared to have a five-foot coach,” Smith explains, when discussing her first year with the Red Sox.
“So, the first week my uniform was really big on me and eventually they ended up making me another uniform that fit a little bit better. Thankfully, I’m used to that.”
Smith is just one of a number of women who are working in elite professional sport, with numbers on the increase.
In 2022, 11 women will work as on-field coaches across major and minor league baseball teams, with eight of those hired for their current role either last year or this year.
As an African-American woman working in a male-dominated sport, Smith is clearly a trailblazer in two respects, fitting for someone who grew up idolising Jackie Robinson, the first African-American to play in MLB.
“The idea that I’m a trailblazer is certainly not one I thought of,” Smith said.
“But I mean, if that means more girls, more women are more interested in this game and might want to consider coaching as an opportunity, then even better for it.”
“I didn’t consider myself a role model before this. It’s still kind of weird to think that to be honest. That wasn’t really my intention when I took the job.”
Smith said she hopes people can be inspired by her story.
“I’m happy if my story can inspire other women, other women of colour, other people of colour, or really anybody. I don’t want to put limits on it. If anybody is inspired by the story, then even better,” she said.
The appointment of Smith comes at an exciting time for baseball fans after Apple and the MLB recently announced a new broadcast deal.
‘Friday Night Baseball’, a weekly doubleheader with live pre-game and post-game shows, will be available for fans in eight countries, including Australia, exclusively on Apple TV+ once the MLB regular season begins.
Fans will be able to watch marquee games on Friday nights, free from local broadcast restrictions, across devices where Apple TV+ can be found, including on the Apple TV app on iPhone, iPad, Mac, Apple TV 4K and HD, and on tv.apple.com, along with select smart TVs, gaming consoles and cable set-top boxes.
‘Friday Night Baseball’ will be available on Apple TV+ and for a limited time, without the need for a subscription.
“Just like all baseball fans, we can’t wait for the season to open,” said Peter Stern, Apple’s vice president of Services.
“Baseball has a special place in the heart of so many Apple customers — not just in the United States, but in many countries around the world. We’re proud to make Apple TV+ the home for great baseball moments throughout the season.”
Noah Garden, MLB’s chief revenue officer, said ‘Friday Night Baseball’ will be an opportunity for fans to connect with the game.
“Apple is the ideal partner to bring ‘Friday Night Baseball’ to fans around the world,” he said.
“Following milestones like the launch of At Bat on day one of the App Store in 2008 to the integration of Apple technology in ballparks across the country, this robust new game package is the perfect next collaboration in our long history of offering quality and innovative content to our fans.”
“With national availability and international reach, MLB on Apple TV+ offers an exciting new platform to fans that allows a wider audience to connect with the game.”