Alyssa Nakken

Why Matt Cain's perfect game is special to Giants coach Alyssa Nakken

Why Matt Cain's perfect game is special to Giants coach Alyssa Nakken

Giants coach Alyssa Nakken has been a fan of the team since the day she was born. Growing up in Woodland, a town outside Sacramento, Nakken grew up supporting the Giants before coming to work for the team as a baseball operations intern in 2014.

And as Nakken revealed in an interview with NBC Sports Bay Area’s “Triples Alley” crew, the Giants helped give her a pretty incredible 22nd birthday present.

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“So on my 22nd birthday, my family and I went to the game,” Nakken said. “And it happened to be the 22nd perfect game in MLB history, so Matt Cain’s perfect game.”

If that’s not destiny, what is?

Little did Nakken know at the time that she’d become MLB’s first full-time female coach, and would be making her professional coaching debut whenever the 2020 season officially gets underway.

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Giants' Alyssa Nakken describes emotions seeing name on team uniform

Giants' Alyssa Nakken describes emotions seeing name on team uniform

Alyssa Nakken made MLB history by becoming the first woman to be hired as a coach to a major league staff when she was added to the Giants as an assistant coach in February. 

Nakken could be used to the extra attention she’s getting, but she’s taking it in strides and remains humble with the spotlight, but that didn't stop her from lighting up seeing her name stitched on the back of an orange and black uniform.

“This is an amazing job for anybody, man or woman, or anyone,” Nakken said on MLB Network Radio during an appropriately titled segment: ‘The Most Influential Women in Baseball’. “And just for anyone advancing in their career, it’s exciting to take that next step.

"So, I had all of those feelings, and then on the side, this is a historical moment.”

Despite breaking barriers, her journey, in the beginning, had nothing to do with gender. Back in February in an exclusive interview with NBC Sports Bay Area’s Amy Gutierrez, she said there wasn’t a moment where Giants manager Gabe Kapler talked about her being female.

She’s been a member of the organization since 2014 where she began as a baseball operations intern taking on every task from international scouting to planning postseason travel. 

She admitted she’s given blood, sweat and tears to the Giants and knows she can make an impact and immediately felt overwhelmed when she entered the clubhouse on the first day of spring training. 

Nakken is used to seeing her name on a uniform from her days playing softball at Sacramento State, but this was different. 

[RELATED: Giants players praise Nakken during spring training]

“I think it was just a little bit elevated of a feeling,” she continued. “I feel very humbled by the opportunity and, there’s a crazy amount of emotions that go into it, you know?”

Nakken, along with the rest of the baseball world, currently is on hiatus amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. She got a taste in Arizona of what she’s going to do should the season resume in 2020, and her uniform awaits her arrival.  

[GIANTS INSIDER PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

Giants players praise Alyssa Nakken after first spring training as coach

Giants players praise Alyssa Nakken after first spring training as coach

It's something special when Hunter Pence notices your enthusiasm.

It’s impossible not to feel any energy when you’re around the Giants’ outfielder, but this compliment went toward his assistant coach, Alyssa Nakken. 

Pence, along with many of his teammates, had nothing but great things to say about Nakken in interviews with The San Francisco Chronicle earlier this month.

Nakken made history this offseason by becoming the first female coach to be hired on to a major league coaching staff. But making history wasn’t something she and the team’s manager, Gabe Kapler, had discussed during the interview process. That’s the exact mentality she wants to bring to the team, and she had just finished her first spring training in that role.

“It’s great. it’s kind of what San Francisco’s all about,” Jeff Samardzija told The Chronicle. “This game’s for everybody. For kids. For old people. For men and women and anybody, man. It’s a fun game, and you just want to get as many people involved who love the game as much as we do.”

Brandon Crawford mirrored those sentiments in a way but didn’t want it to get blown out of proportion. He wished it was more common.

“I don’t want this to sound bad because it is a historic thing, but I feel the more that it’s talked about, the bigger deal it is, and it shouldn’t be such a big deal,” Crawford said. “It should be, ‘Why not have more women in those positions?’ It should be normal.”

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It should. And hopefully one day, it will be.