Baseball 101: Baseball for Female Fans

Some people think that being a female baseball fan just means that you enjoy wearing pink baseball caps, think Chase Utley is really cute, and spend most baseball games staring at the players’ butts.  Fortunately, the Philadelphia Phillies recognize that many women have a passion for baseball that goes far beyond girly clothes or tight uniforms.

This past Wednesday the Phillies held their fourth Baseball 101 Clinic & Luncheon, giving 130 women the incredible opportunity to learn everything baseball from the Phillies coaches themselves.  The ladies discovered how to grip a curveball like Cole Hamels from pitching coach Rich Dubee, how to swing like Chase Utley from Phillies hitting coach Milt Thompson, and how to run the bases like Jimmy Rollins from first-base coach Davey Lopes.  They threw in the bullpen, hit in the batting cages, and ran around the base paths of Citizens Bank Park.

One of the attendees was Phillies Ballgirl Debbie, who brought her mother and sister along with her.  Naturally, I had to harass her and ask her about her experience.

What was your favorite part of the day?
I’ve been on the field many times so to be able to have my Mom and sister experience that was pretty exciting.  I loved seeing Rich Dubee and Mick Billmeyer’s faces when I fired a pitch off the mound in the bullpen…not sure they expected that from me. (I think I may have a contract in the works!)  I also loved getting the chance to learn the skill of base running from one of the best, Davey Lopes…and getting to run around the bases, which by the way was AWESOME.  Seeing my Mom do it was so funny, thank goodness we stretched before we started!  
What was the funniest moment?
Well other than my Mom falling after attempting a lunge stretch, I would have to say when Greg Dobbs came into a room full of women and said…”I’m scared.”  Great opening line…he is quite the comedian!!
How did you, your mom, and your sister do in the batting cages?
Well, Milt Thompson gave my mom props for her hitting talent.  I have to admit, I’ve never been nervous about hitting off a tee, but when you have Milt Thompson staring at you, critiquing your every move, it’s definitely intimidating…my knees where shaking! 
Was it what you expected?
It was more than I expected!  I have so much respect for the Phillies organization for recognizing women and giving them the opportunity to learn the game of baseball from professionals.  If anyone is looking to get their mom a birthday present, belated Mother’s Day present, or a present just for being her, The Baseball 101 Clinic is definitely worth every penny….especially considering all the money goes to the Phillies Charities!!

After all of their hard work on the field, the women took some time to relax during a buffet lunch.  Then they reconvened for the unique opportunity to hear from all sorts of “baseball professionals,” including NBC 10 Sports Anchor John Clark, sports analyst Michael Barkan, Phillies Utility Player (and my favorite Phillie) Greg Dobbs, Director of Baseball Administration, Susan Ingersoll Papaneri (who started working for the Phillies in the 70s as a member of the Hot Pants Patrol… but you didn’t hear that from me), Jen Utley of the Phillies’ Wives Program, and ME… Phillies Ballgirl and blogger.     

Now it’s not every day that I sit on panel as cameras flash at me, and have 100 women watching me and asking me questions.  Oh, and did I mention that one of the women was my boss??!!  No pressure.

Their questions were the ones I hear most often:

How do I become a ballgirl?  Go to the Phillies website, under the Community section, next September or October and fill out an application.  Of the total applicants (last year there were over 600) the Phillies will choose about 100 (based on their softball background and resume) to come to Citizen’s Bank Park for a tryout.  The tryout involves hitting, fielding, and an American Idol-style interview in front of a panel.  From the tryout the Phillies will choose about 20 women to come back for a formal interview.  Then they usually take around 10 women.  It’s an extensive process, but so worth it… even just to get to be on the field for a tryout!

How come when the opposing team hits a home run and a fan catches it and throws the ball back, you run out, get it, and give it to a little kid?  Because when I come back with the ball there are about 40 of the cutest kids you’ve ever seen standing there with their gloves out saying, “Can I have the ball please, please, please, please???”  Who could resist that?  Besides, no one will boo them for taking it!

Have you ever been hit with a ball? No.  (Although I really don’t want to jinx that…)  We go through at least three games of training before we are on the field alone, which means we can usually judge the ball pretty well.  It always gets a little interesting when you have a player coming from one direction, a ball coming from another, and the fence on one side.  We definitely do some crazy acrobatics from time to time. 

I had a great time being “grilled” by such passionate Phillies fans, and I definitely learned some things from Jen Utley and Susan Ingersoll Papaneri.  My mom has already informed me that she wants to attend the next one, which will be held August 26th, with sign ups starting at 9 a.m. on Monday, May 19th.

Oh, and for the record, there is absolutely nothing wrong with having a pink Phillies hat… or appreciating a good-looking baseball player!!

1 Comment

I hadn’t heard about this program, but think it sounds like a blast! Maybe I’ll have to see if my sister or mom are interested.

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