The story behind Alyssa Nakken’s groundbreaking night as the Giants’ first-base coach

There was a lot of drama to go around at Oracle Park

By Chris Haft

Special to The Examiner

What should have been a night of celebration for Giants coach Alyssa Nakken on Tuesday spun into controversy after San Francisco’s 13-2 victory over the San Diego Padres.

Nakken, 31, who became the major leagues’ first full-time female coach three years ago as a member of the Giants’ staff, took that distinction one step farther. She replaced Antoan Richardson in the first-base coach’s box, thereby becoming baseball’s first on-field, in-game female coach.

But the reasons for Richardson being replaced seemed steeped in friction. Richardson was ejected by umpiring crew chief Greg Gibson in the third inning, then later claimed that he was object of angry curses from the lips of the Padres’ acting third-base coach Mike Schildt.

Richardson said that Schildt, stationed at the third-base coaching box, peered into the Giants’ dugout, prompting Richardson to ask, “Can I help you?” According to Richardson, Schildt said that he was looking for Giants pitcher Alex Wood. Richardson claimed that Schildt said, “I didn’t say anything to you.” Richardson added that Schildt told Giants manager Gabe Kapler, “You need to control that m***** f*****.” Richardson, who believed that Schildt’s behavior carried racist undertones, then was ejected.

The Padres appeared to be incensed that the Giants added four second-inning runs after scoring six in the first, violating baseball etiquette while doing so. San Francisco’s Mauricio Dubon bunted for a single and Steven Duggar stole a base, defying the convention of ceasing to employ such plays when the score is lopsided.

“I trust Antoan’s judgment 100 percent,” Kapler said, adding that any attempt to pin blame on Richardson was “totally inappropriate.”

The Giants also defended their style of play. Kapler saw no problem with piling on offense, since that can force teams to use more relief pitchers and weaken them in the long run.

“I’m well aware of what the unwritten rules are,” Kapler said. “We think they don’t apply to us.” Kapler said that if opponents teams want to run up the score on the Giants, “That’s totally fine, too.”

As for Nakken, the Hall of Fame received the helmet she wore from the third through eighth innings to be used as an exhibit.

“I try to live my life trying to be a good role model,” said Nakken, who normally assists Richardson in refining outfield play and baserunning instruction. “Try to commit to job while trying to stay a nice person.”

Said Kapler, “Alyssa was prepared for this moment.”

Chris Haft is a longtime Bay Area baseball writer who covers the Giants for The Examiner.

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