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Women thrive in front offices: ‘We just do the job’

Across all levels, nine women have general manager roles in 2023
Kristin Call and Michelle Skinner are among nine women general managers in the Minors in 2023. (Myrtle Beach Pelicans/Fayetteville Woodpeckers)
May 18, 2023

Kristin Call’s approach to her job as Single-A Myrtle Beach general manager is relatable to the ethos of Minor League Baseball. “Everybody in this industry has somebody that they can influence,” Call said. “We've had [seasonal employees] that we've been trying to coach up. … ‘How can we best prepare

Kristin Call’s approach to her job as Single-A Myrtle Beach general manager is relatable to the ethos of Minor League Baseball.

“Everybody in this industry has somebody that they can influence,” Call said. “We've had [seasonal employees] that we've been trying to coach up. … ‘How can we best prepare them to take the next step?’”

That sense of development not only makes for a good farm system, but it’s also made Call one of the best at what she does. And the industry took notice. Call was named Baseball America’s 2022 Minor League Executive of the Year in her first season as the Pelicans’ GM.

“Anytime somebody brings [the award] up, I'm like, ‘No, no. It's the job. We just do the job.,’” said Call, who, like many in Minor League front offices, began as an intern and climbed the ranks to her current post.

There is a rising number of women maintaining Minor League front-office and senior-level positions. This season, Call is one of nine women with the general manager title across the Minors, including Fayetteville’s Michelle Skinner and Wilmington’s Liz Welch, who just took on their roles this season.

There have been dozens of women GMs throughout the Minors since Lanny Moss broke through to become the first as a 24-year-old for the Portland Mavericks in 1974. All members of the current group were elevated to the GM title sometime after the 2019 season, and all but two had at least a decade of experience in Minor League Baseball before landing their current roles.

In December, the “Women in Baseball” event returned to the Winter Meetings after a three-year hiatus due to the pandemic. Call attended this event in past years and listened to the women executives discuss their experiences in baseball front offices. This year, Call graduated from the gallery to the dais, and she addressed the crowd of 96 women alongside some of her personal inspirations like Erin McCormick, who holds the same title for Gwinnett, and El Paso senior director Angela Olivas.

“There's so many [women in baseball] now, and 15 years ago, you couldn't name that many females around the game,” said High-A Lake County GM Jen Yorko.

A Northeast Ohio native who played softball at nearby Lake Erie College, Yorko started as an intern with the Captains during her senior year in 2007 and never left.

“It was a really good start for me to just be an intern and kind of understand what the business of Minor League Baseball was,” she said.

Yorko was promoted to GM after the 2019 season and has already had what seems like a career’s worth of experiences in just a little more than three years.

While powering through the pandemic, she oversaw many aspects of Classic Park’s host responsibilities for Cleveland’s taxi squad. On top of all that, there was Minor League realignment and new facilities standards that required upgrades at Classic Park, which included a $3.6 million clubhouse renovation and a new lighting project that was completed just in time for the start of the 2022 season.

Throughout the extremely busy times, Yorko found comfort in her network of fellow Midwest League executives, Guardians’ front-office staff and other women in baseball. Even though her experiences the past couple seasons were different from most, there is one constant upon which most everyone in her position can rely.

“The networking side of Minor League Baseball as a whole, I think it's unique to any industry,” said Skinner, who spent the previous 13 seasons with the Tri-City ValleyCats. “Having people [from other clubs] that you can reach out to and ask questions … you're never doing it alone. And those people don't act like your competition. Everyone's in it together and we'll share ideas.”

Skinner followed a similar career path as many of her contemporaries. She started as an intern in 2007 with the Vermont Lake Monsters and returned to the New York-Penn League three years later with Tri-City, which was an Astros affiliate from 2002-2020. She held a few different roles with the ValleyCats and was the assistant GM when she was offered the job in Fayetteville.

Skinner wasn’t exactly shopping for a new job when the opportunity arose. During the Winter Meetings, a friend called Skinner back in New York and suggested she throw her hat in the ring.

“I was very comfortable in [Tri-City], knew that business like the back of my hand,” Skinner said. She was intrigued by the new challenge and opportunity to work with the backing of the Astros and MLB in newly renovated facilities.

“It's also hard to turn down an opportunity to be a GM. How often does that come up?”

In Call’s view, the growing number of women in executive roles is to be expected. Her simple reasoning is that there are more women entering the industry at any level than in past years.

With this in mind, the number of women in senior front-office leadership positions can continue to grow. But in order to do so, executives will have to approach their job with the same sense of development that continues to help turn interns into general managers.

Gerard Gilberto is a reporter for