A New Jersey teacher is expecting an experience Saturday night that any Phillies fan would envy.
Kelly Fleck, 23, is one of 19 Phillies Ballgirls, and Game 4 against the San Diego Padres in Philadelphia is her turn in the spotlight.
Any time a baseball is hit toward foul territory in left field, watch for Fleck. She will wear the #22 Phillies uniform (representing the year) and will use the same glove as when she played shortstop for the Lacey Township High School softball team.
Her role on the team — the Phillies Ballgirls also serve as team ambassadors and attend home games when not assigned to the field — is a frequent topic at Robbinsville High School, where Fleck teaches. American history and world studies.
“I usually start a class by asking if anyone saw the Phillies game,” said Fleck, whose older sisters Joanna and Jenna preceded her as Phillies Ballgirls.
Fleck is a lifelong Phillies fan, her team is making a historic World Series run and she will be on the court the entire game. There will be so much to process, she acknowledged, but she won’t have the luxury of being distracted.
“They hit you the ball pretty hard,” Fleck explained.
Usually she lets a batted ball hit the wall first before trying to field it, she added, but she also made good catches. Once, she ended up with a bruise.
This is Fleck’s second year at Robbinsville High School, and also her second year as a Phillies Ballgirl — a part-time job that pays relatively little, but that many fans would likely do for free. However, with her teaching career just beginning, the Phillies Ballgirls are limited to two seasons.
Saturday could be her last appearance on the pitch, she acknowledged.
“There’s a chance I could come back if we get to the World Series, but with 19 of us, I’m not sure. I would be happy though if one of the girls had that chance,” said Fleck, who will be in the stands Friday night for Game 3.
If the Phillies win the World Series, “I guess we’ll be in the parade,” she added.
Fleck lives in Ocean Gate, a borough in Ocean County about an 80-minute drive from Citizens Bank Park. She played softball, volleyball, and basketball in high school and attended Stockton University.
Although her two older sisters were Phillies Ballgirls, Fleck still faced stiff competition for the coveted gig. The job requires a resume and a “personal video application demonstrating your softball skills and personality traits,” according to the Phillies’ website.
Some of the 100 women who tried out with her – 18 is the minimum age – had played in college, she said.
On the pitch, Fleck said his interactions with players were relatively limited.
“We’re not supposed to really engage with the players, but there are times when they talk to us,” Fleck said.
The fans, however, are a constant presence, and many are hoping for a baseball. Fleck is also giving out her personal baseball cards, showing her in a Phillies jersey — another perk of the job.
And, yes, sometimes she hears a familiar voice in the bleachers, at her school, calling “Ms. Spot.”
Children, in particular, are eager to chat.
“Especially little girls. It’s cool to see a girl on the pitch,” she said.
She’s optimistic that this unlikely playoff run — the Phillies clinched the sixth and final National League playoff spot, before ousting the St. Louis Cardinals and Atlanta Braves — will culminate in the 3rd title of the team in the World Series.
“You can really tell the players want it,” she said, “and the fans are right behind them.”
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Rob Jennings can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.