By Evan Berkowitz | [email protected]
The Alexandria Aces’ best-ever season is barely over, but for General Manager Kimmy McCarthy, planning for next year has already begun.
“Some people think it’s only a June and July job,” she said, “but it’s a year-round job.” In the week and change since the Aces bowed out of the Cal Ripken Collegiate Baseball League’s playoffs in a fall-apart loss in the wildcard game, McCarthy has stayed busy, cleaning out the press box, inventorying merchandise and making sure Frank Mann Field is left in good shape for its school-year occupant, Bishop Ireton High School.
She also keeps track of leftover baseballs — which will be used for batting practice when the team switches game-ball color as it does each season — and bats, ensuring all is ready and organized for the Aces’ 11th season next year.
“Once all that’s done, we kind of have a little ‘lull,’” McCarthy said. “But I say that with quotations, because there really isn’t ever an off-time for the Aces.” Now, as she closes out her first season as general manager, McCarthy looks forward to next summer and reflects on the challenges, rewards and lessons of running a ball club’s front office.
“A million things happen on game-day outside the lines,” team owner Don Dinan said.
“She did an excellent job this year.”
McCarthy became involved with the Aces during the 2014 campaign, when she served as assistant general manager. She was promoted to her current post before this season and is the only female general manager in the Ripken League — and one of a small handful nationwide.
For McCarthy, that fact, coupled with her relative youth, is unique, but was never an issue once she earned the respect of general managers league-wide.
She grew up playing softball and watching baseball, and her love of the game transcends any boundary.
“I don’t think there was ever any doubt or any hesitation, especially on my end, that I wouldn’t be able to fulfill the role fully,” she said.
Besides, McCarthy said being at the games themselves has proved most special.
“A huge part of our fan base is families, people bringing their kids,” Dinan said. “I can’t help but think that for young girls to see a woman in power in a traditionally male environment like baseball is enabling for them.” Several among that base
have told McCarthy the same thing, she said.
“A few fans and even some of the players’ parents … specifically said that, ‘This is incredible that you’re a general manager,’” McCarthy recounted. “‘You know, my daughter loves baseball and I am going to tell her that you’re the general manager and she can do that one day maybe.’”
For someone who said she never envisioned herself becoming a role model, that sort of sentiment is heartening.
“I never would think that someone would be looking up to me,” she said. “I had a few people say that to me, and it made me really happy and excited.” McCarthy’s work with the Aces comes in addition to her day job with the federal government.
“It’s definitely difficult to have a full-time job and do the Aces as well,” she said. “But I think I’ve gotten into a good rhythm with it.”
McCarthy is also engaged to Aces Coach David DeSilva, though Dinan said DeSilva
“walled himself from that” to ensure personal and professional don’t mix.
Looking to next season, McCarthy said there’s much to do. In the off-season, she’ll continue to update the Aces’ website and social media accounts. As the season approaches, she’ll line up host families, interview and hire game day staff — broadcasters, ticket collectors and concessionaires — and ensure that all is ready when players arrive.
Dinan said that McCarthy’s ability to manage all that makes her a standout.
“The key item is knowing what needs to be done without being told and having the organizational abilities to get it done,” he said.
She makes roster sheets, writes public address scripts, buys snacks for the concession stand, delivers water to the dugouts and manages game-day volunteers.
“I … just love the excitement of it, and getting to talk to all the fans and the players’ parents and of course the game day staff learning and getting better,” she said. “I think that pretty much all of it is my favorite part.”
All this has occurred against the backdrop of the Alexandria Aces’ best season yet. Despite the late slide, the Aces managed a top-5 national ranking midway through the season, sent six players and Coach DeSilva to the league’s all-star game (which the Aces’ division won) and racked up a program-record 28 wins.
“Honestly, it’s sort of like a dream,” she said. “I keep having to pinch myself and say, ‘Did we really just have this incredible season, and really we were ranked No. 4 at one point?’” Compared to the Aces of 10 years ago, even those McCarthy first encountered in 2014, the improvement is amazing, she said.
“I was talking with the [Baltimore] Redbirds’ general manager, and he said when they used to play the Aces it was a cakewalk and it wasn’t even competition,” McCarthy said. “Now, they were a little nervous to come and play the Aces and … we were real competition against them.
“Even though we ended our season earlier than how I would have liked to, I still think it was absolutely incredible,” she said.
“It’s great for Alexandria and it’s obviously great for the Aces to have the team turn around like that, especially for the 10th year.”