On her 43rd birthday, Feb. 11, 1999, Jane Rogers was the first hire by the Yankees’ New York-Penn League rookie team, the Staten Island Yankees, and she’s still celebrating.
As general manager, Rogers embraces her mother role to some players. Just don’t misconstrue that.
“When I hear that, I think of cooking and baking cookies at night,” said Rogers, 60. “That’s not my role here.”
Rising from office manager to special assistant, then assistant GM, Rogers cleaned bathrooms and pulled the tarp when needed.
“They just kept throwing it at me, as they say, and I was able to juggle it all,” said Rogers, a Brooklyn native and nearly 40-year Staten Island resident.
“This is not an ordinary job, especially for a woman,” said Rogers, a rare female baseball executive. “While everybody always says, ‘Oh it’s a man’s game,’ I’ve never been treated anything less than like an equal. Or with a lot of respect.”
“There are times when guys want to be guys, and that’s the time for me to exit.”
Being a minor league GM is more about people development than player development.
“I think I am a confidant to some of the players,” Rogers said. “You’ve got to remember they’re young.”
Late New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner was encouraging early on.
“He said to me, ‘Young lady, we expect a lot from these players, and we don’t want them to have to worry about housing, or their families, or what kind of bedding they’re going to have, or what they’re going to eat,’ ” Rogers said.
Overseeing that and more, Rogers helps future Yanks adjust to pro ball, like Chien Ming Wang (“I’ve been dubbed his American mother”) and Francisco Cervelli (“He calls me his mommy in Spanish”).
What Rogers expects of players is, “Just come to the ballpark, play your hearts out, follow Yankee tradition, be a great person on and off the field.”
Rogers estimates having supervised perhaps thousands of employees, including son Matthew and daughter Julie.
“If they develop a little bit of the excitement and love that I have for this, then it’s a home run,” she said.