Staff Q&A with Leanne McCarron

Leanne McCarron

Peter Tobia

Leanne McCarron works at Penn Law School’s Gittis Center for Clinical Legal Studies, plays softball on nights and weekends and is taking a course at Penn in preparation for the dental school entrance exam. And, when the Phillies are playing at home and her work schedule permits, she’s a ball girl at Citizens Bank Park.

Leanne McCarron’s typical day is so packed her schedule looks like that of two people.

During office hours, McCarron is the client coordinator in the Civil Practice Clinic of the Penn Law School’s Gittis Center for Clinical Legal Studies. On nights and weekends, McCarron plays softball in the Delaware County Women’s Fast Pitch League, and is taking a course at Penn in preparation for the dental school entrance exam. And, when the Phillies are playing at home and her work schedule permits, she’s a ball girl at Citizens Bank Park.

A lifelong, ardent Phillies fan and former NCAA Division I softball player for the University of Pittsburgh, McCarron long dreamed of becoming a Phillies ball girl. “When I would go to [Phillies] games, when I would watch games on TV, I would say, ‘It would be amazing to do this. I could totally do this.’” Her dream was fulfilled last fall, when she finally worked up the courage to apply for the job and was selected to join the Phillies’ team of 17 ball girls for the 2011 season.

Knowing the game of baseball is an important requirement for being a ball girl. All are softball players, which comes in handy when a fast-flying baseball in play comes into their coverage area.

Among Phillies loyalists, the ball girls are mini-celebrities. They take photos with fans and sign autographs. They even have their own baseball cards, with their photos on the front and information about them on the back. The ball girls also play on a softball team together to raise money for Phillies charities.

The Current caught up with McCarron to talk about her job at the Law School and how her amusing audition video won over the judges at the ball girl tryouts.

Q. What do you do as client coordinator at Penn Law’s Gittis Center for Clinical Legal Studies?
A. I field all of the intake calls for our main litigation clinic, the Civil Practice Clinic. The cases that we take on are usually from one of the local Legal Aid offices, or from [the] phone calls that we get. I get their information and present it to the faculty so they can decide whether we can take on the case for the school year.

Q. How did the Phillies ball girl position come about?
A. In 2008, they had open auditions. They had somewhere near 1,700 girls show up. So, the next year, they asked [all the candidates] to submit audition videos. That was the one part that I was a little bit hesitant about. You have to film yourself. What do you say? What do you do? Do you film yourself playing softball? Do you film yourself talking?
So, finally, I said, ‘I’m going to do it.’ Literally the last day it was due, I had a bike courier pick up [the film] from my office and bike it over to the stadium.

Q. What kinds of things did you include in your audition video?
A. It was very brief in the beginning, just explaining different charity things I’ve done with my softball teams. But then my mom had an idea. Ball girls sit on chairs at the games, and when a foul ball that could be potentially a fair ball comes their way they have to get out of the way, but they have to take their chairs with them. She thought it would be funny if I, in my video, ran with chairs. So, at the end of my video, I’m running across the screen, once with a kitchen stool, once with a kitchen chair, and then one final time, pushing a computer chair across the backyard. If I could do it, I would have pushed a sofa.

Q. What was the tryout like and what are the duties of a ball girl?
A. The tryouts were what you’d expect. We had to do fielding. We had to do some batting in the [batting] cages, which is really cool because you’re down underground in the stadium, in the same [batting] cages that the Phillies use. Then you had to do a live interview with one of the big press cameras in the pressroom. They have a table of judges watching your interview. From there they cut it down to maybe 15 to 20 girls to come in for a follow-up interview.
We have two different kinds of jobs. One is the ‘Red Goes Green’ team. Basically, we supervise and/or work with a group of volunteers in the stadium collecting recyclables. In between each inning, the team runs down the aisles, usually in the 100 level, collecting recyclables. … On the field, our duties are probably the most fun and the most exciting because you’re right in the middle of the action. In a month, if you’re scheduled for six games, maybe four of them will be ‘Red Goes Green,’ and two will be on the field.

Q. Your regular schedule involves work, rushing off to Phillies games, playing softball and taking classes. How do you manage all of that?
A. It’s actually great because the stadium is so close to work. For games that start at 7 o’clock, we have to be there an hour ahead of time. I have plenty of time to get there. Everyone in the Clinic has been supportive and encouraging, and for the most part I’m able to schedule the Phillies around my work schedule. The weekend games are tough because I’ve been taking biology and that’s a six-hour class on Saturdays. It’s just a lot of time management.

This is the coolest experience I’ve ever had."

Q. You’ve been with the Phillies for just a little over a month now. How long would you like to stay with the team?
A. Assuming that your first year goes well, you can be invited back for a second year. Then, you’re done. They term us rookies and veterans. There are seven rookies and 10 veterans this year.

Q. What kinds of public appearances do you make on behalf of the Phillies?
A. There was an event during ‘Phillies Paint the Town Red’ week at the Independence Visitor Center.
And, we did the Macy’s fashion show. We did a runway show at the Macy’s in Center City. It’s not my cup of tea, but it was fun.

Q. How did you feel about doing something like that, outside of your comfort zone?
A. This is the coolest experience I’ve ever had. When it comes to things that I’m not used to, when it comes to speaking to the public, or being on the news and having to be interviewed, I just take every day as it goes along.
It’s changed my outlook on certain things, like being in public and walking a runway, which I would have never volunteered to do under any other circumstances.

Originally published on May 19, 2011