Baseball 101 (Take 2!)
On August 26, I had the amazing opportunity to switch gears from Phillies employee to a straight-up Phillies fan. My mom and I attended Baseball 101, the Phillies’ day-long event that gives women the ultimate baseball experience while raising money for Phillies Charities.
My mom and I arrived at 9:15 a.m., dressed in our Phillies red and white, with baseball gloves in hand. We were greeted by smiling Phillies women, who checked us in, gave us our welcome packets, and directed us down to the Diamond Club.
Even just being in the Diamond Club was an exciting experience for most of us (especially considering the whole day program cost less than two Diamond Club tickets). After a warm introduction from our beloved master of ceremonies, Scott Palmer, we headed outside to hear about the Phillies field from the man that knows it best… Head Groundskeeper Mike Boekholder.
Let me tell you, these women had some excellent questions and they didn’t hold back. (They asked about the Jimmy Buffet concert twice.) I learned that there is a layer of sand under the field for drainage, that the mowing patterns on the grass affect how the ball actually plays (so those Red Sox stockings at Fenway Park must make life interesting for visiting teams), and that each starting pitcher likes the mound to have a different feel… Moyer likes it softer, Myers likes it hard, and Hamels and Kendrick like it somewhere in the middle.
After the grounds crew we took to the field for some stretching led by the ever-charismatic Janita Styles, and then broke into groups for throwing, pitching, baserunning, and hitting stations.
Any woman would be proud of the totally non-girlie throws produced by the Baseball 101 women, and Milt Thompson was definitely impressed with my mom’s hitting (she totally showed me up). There were no questions about Pat Burrell’s marital status, no screams about breaking a nail, and no women sitting on the sidelines. These were serious baseball fans who came to play!
Some of my favorite parts were listening to Jimy Williams talk about players being able to find the laces of the ball without even looking, Rich Dubee discussing the different pitchers’ conditioning routines and how he deals with new pitchers who join the Phils pitching staff, listening to Milt’s advice to say, “Breathe, step, throw” as you go to hit the ball, and hearing Davey Lopes explain that he uses a stopwatch to time a pitcher’s windup and determine which players are fast enough to steal on him (although Victorino and Rollins have the green light whenever they want to try).
After our stations we took a break for lunch (which included my favorite chocolate-covered pretzels) and got some broadcasting tips from Phillies Radio Broadcaster Scott Franzke. Irena worked the event and mentioned that this part of the program was one of her favorite parts of the day!
“The first was when Scott Franzke chose participants to take a try at announcing a few portions of video clips from games throughout the season. First we listened to Scott’s version and then we listened to the ladies’ live versions. Although Scott’s versions sounded a bit more polished, the women’s announcements were extremely entertaining.”
Next came a discussion with Frank Coppenbarger, Director of Team Travel and Clubhouse Services, who discussed the Phillies’ food allowance, uniform demands, fancy cleat designs, and the extra-baggy pants made especially for a well-known outfielder that the Phillies were fighting for. Sadly Manny didn’t end up in a Phillies uniform, but ballgirl Christy still got to try on his pants!
Then came a Q&A session with Phillies closer Brad Lidge, who talked about Phillies fans, his “routine” (he doesn’t like to call them superstitions, routines are more manly), and his least favorite people to pitch to (Todd Helton was one).
Suprisingly, Lidge’s interview didn’t cause nearly as much of a fuss as the visit of baseball’s favorite mascot. In Irena’s words, “My second favorite part of the day was the arrival of the Phanatic and his not so swift departure. So many women wanted to take their picture with the ever-so-handsome Phanatic that he practically had to be dragged out of the Diamond Club!”
The entire day was amazing. My mom said it was the best day of her whole summer, and I’m so glad I got to share this special Phillies experience with her.