Perez, along with Marlton resident Tiffany Savich and Haddonfield native Sarah Barrett, talked about their experiences as members of the Philadelphia Phillies ballgirl team.
At every Philadelphia Phillies home game, two ballgirls sit along each foul line. Numerous times during the game, a foul ball will be hit toward the stands, necessitating the ballgirl to retrieve the ball and hand it off to a fan sitting nearby.
For some members of the 2017 Phillies ballgirl team, including Tiffany Savich of Marlton, Alex Perez of Cherry Hill and Haddonfield Memorial High School alum Sarah Barrett, being on the field is an exciting experience. However, all three say there is so much more to being a ballgirl.
“My favorite part of the job is all the community service you do,” Perez said. “Going out into the community and being able to change people’s lives.”
“I enjoy the opportunity to give back to the community and be part of something really special,” Savich added.
Becoming a Phillies ballgirl is not easy. Prospective ballgirls must go through an audition process, beginning in the winter.
“It’s a two-year commitment,” Savich said. “We had to do a two-minute video highlighting your softball skills and why you wanted to be a ballgirl.”
After submitting videos, prospective ballgirls are invited to tryouts in March, where their softball skills are tested. Candidates are also tested on the Phillies knowledge and sit down for a five-minute on camera interview with a panel of six to eight people.
Many of the girls trying out have past softball experience. Barrett played softball as a kid through her freshman year of high school before focusing on soccer. Perez was encouraged to try out as a ballgirl after getting involved as a softball coach in the Phillies RBI program, which brings baseball and softball leagues to inner city neighborhoods. Perez picked up the sport in seventh grade.
Savich was one of the few tryouts without past softball experience.
“I was definitely surprised,” Savich said when she found out she was selected as a ballgirl. “I had never played softball.”
Having softball skills is only a small part of a ballgirls’ job description. An enthusiasm for community service and being a strong representative of the Phillies are two very important qualities the ballgirls have.
“I just love all the community outreach you do,” Perez said. “I love the clinics we do with the girls. The ballgirls and the RBI program coincide for a clinic during Play Ball weekend.”
“I’ve always been really into community service and this is a great way to give back,” Barrett said. “I went to a children’s hospital visit and it was so rewarding.”
At the ballpark, the Phillies do not put inexperienced ballgirls on the field right away. New ballgirls have to go through four games of training on the field before being assigned to a full game.
“The only real training we have to go through that’s long and hard is on the field,” Barrett said. “I just finished up my on the field training last week. We have to do four games in a row and you have to stay on the field a little bit longer each game.”
Ballgirls are required to do more than just retrieve foul balls on the field. They are also asked to retrieve a pitcher’s jacket when he enters a game out of the bullpen.
“I had a few fans time me for my fastest time to get the pitcher’s jacket on the field,” Savich joked.
“It’s good for people to know that we’re not just sitting on the field and fielding ground balls,” Barrett said. “We are athletes.”
Ballgirls who aren’t working on the field in a given game will man the Phillies’ 50/50 booth on the concourse or work with the Phillies Red Goes Green team, where volunteers walk around the stadium during the game and collect recyclables.
Perez said interacting with the fans at games is her favorite part of the job. Most game days, she will ride her longboard to the stadium from the parking lot and greet fans on the way.
“They get so excited when they see us walking around the stadium,” Perez said. “It really makes me feel good. I’m just this kid from Cherry Hill. I didn’t think I’d be big time.”
Being a Phillies ballgirl is a part-time job. All of the ballgirls have other obligations away from the ballpark. Savich works as a certified public accountant, Perez has a job at Vito’s Pizza in Cherry Hill, and Barrett is enrolled in graduate school at La Salle University and works in the athletics department there.
The ballgirl position is flexible, allowing the women to choose which games and events they’d like to work around their schedule.
“For July, I think there’s 15 to 16 games and five to eight events,” Savich said. “I got selected for 11 (games) and then out of the events, I got selected to participate in one of those as well.”
Many of the ballgirls try to sign up for as many events as possible, simply because of how much they love their job.
“Even if it was volunteer position, I think all of us would still participate or want to be a ballgirl,” Savich said.
Barrett said she would encourage anyone thinking about trying out to be a ballgirl to go for it.
“Definitely do it,” she said. “Whether it works out or not, it’s an awesome experience.”