By Steve Overmyer

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — There was historic news in the sports world earlier this week. The Yankees have named the first female minor league manager in MLB history.

Rachel Balkovec is the new skipper of the club’s Single A affiliate in Tampa.

As CBS2’s Steve Overmyer reported Wednesday, she has had to pave her own road to success.

“If you know my story and you have a pulse, I think it’s pretty hard not to get behind what’s going on here,” Balkovec said.

READ MOREReport: Yankees Promote Rachel Balkovec To Manager At Low A Tampa, First Woman To Lead MLB-Affiliated Club

Balkovec’s road to manager was not an easy one. It started nine years ago with a clear-cut case of discrimination.

“I’ll obviously never forget this phone call, but he just said, ‘Hey, I’m really sorry it took me so long to get back. I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but we’re not going to be able to hire you and I do want to let you know it’s because you’re a woman,'” Balkovec said.

Then-hitting coach Rachel Balkovec looks on during the Florida Complex League (FCL) game between the FCL New York Yankees and FCL Detroit Tigers on July 9, 2021 in Lakeland, Florida. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

She started getting calls when she changed the name on her resume to a gender neutral “Rae.” After a series of jobs in strength training and as a hitting coaches, she’s now the first woman to manage an MLB-affiliated team.

“I’m glad my path was difficult. It still serves me to this day. So if you’re feeling like you’re not welcome or it’s a difficult path, good. Try to look at yourself and go ‘This is gonna be good for me in the future,’ even if it doesn’t feel good in the moment,” Balkovec said.

FLASHBACK: Yankees Hire MLB’s First Full-Time Female Hitting Coach Rachel Balkovec

There are currently 22 women in on-field coaching jobs in all of baseball, but none in the majors. Jobs that used to go to former players are now going to the highly educated, regardless of gender.

“Are you seeing a shift in baseball, an increased value in intelligence in the game?” Overmyer asked.

“It’s a science. You study not only the technology, but also how to communicate with players. That’s behavioral psychology. These things have been researched,” Balkovec said.

Sports has always been a vehicle to create change in the world. Now, Balkovec is stepping into not only the role of manager, but the duty of a role model.

“I have two jobs and that’s fine,” the 34-year-old said. “I’m pretty sure Jackie Robinson didn’t sign up for his job and then go, ‘Oh yeah, I don’t want to sign autographs.’ It’s part of my job and I take that very seriously. It’s something I’m really passionate about.”

Balkovec represents a sport that continues to evolve, and is giving a glimpse of the future of sports.

Steve Overmyer