October 20, 2022
ROBBINSVILLE, NJ (MERCER)-When the first pitch is thrown at 7:37 p.m. Friday, as the Philadelphia Phillies take on the San Diego Padres in the National League Championship Series, you can bet that Kelly Fleck will have a great view at Citizens Bank Park.
Fleck, an AP history teacher for the past two years at Robbinsville High School, also happens to be finishing her stint as a Phillies Ballgirl, a part-time job she has had on plenty of summer nights and weekends over the last two baseball seasons.
“Friday night is going to be awesome; I can’t wait for the hometown crowd,” Fleck said. “The excitement of playoff baseball is just incredible. It’s something I’ve been waiting to experience.”
Fleck, 23, will be in left field for Saturday night’s game to grab foul balls and toss them into the crowd. During the rest of the homestand, Fleck will be in the stands, serving as an ambassador for the Ballgirls and helping out with the stadium’s recycling efforts.
“The fans have been great; they are always nice to me because they want me to throw them a foul ball,” Fleck said. “Every once in a while, I’ll hear `Ms. Fleck! Ms. Fleck!’ and I’ll know instantly that some of my students from Robbinsville came to see the Phillies play.”
Fleck even has her own baseball card, which she signs and hands out to fans during the game. She also distributes “rally towels” to fans, while also selling 50-50 raffles to raise money for Philadelphia-based charities.
There are 19 Phillies Ballgirls, all of whom are eager to rotate onto the field during a big weekend of playoff baseball in Philly.
During the season, in which the Phillies played 81 home games and then defeated the Atlanta Braves in the wild-card playoffs, Fleck would take the 80-minute drive from her home in Ocean Gate to serve as a Ballgirl for the Philly fans.
So how did this history teacher become a Phillies Ballgirl?
The Phillies advertise on college campuses. Her two older sisters, Joanna and Jenna, became Ballgirls. So, when it was time for Fleck to try out in 2020, she was ready. She competed with about 100 candidates who submitted videos. She went through an on-camera interview, as well as tests in fielding, throwing and batting. Some of the women even played college ball, so competition was fierce.
“Over the past two seasons, I’ve made some good plays out there,” Fleck said. “Usually, I let the foul ball hit the wall first because, as you can imagine, the players hit the ball really hard. It can get a little scary out there. I once got a bruise.”
Fleck said she will be retiring as a BallGirl this season, as the Phillies only allow two seasons, based on the high demand.
Robbinsville Schools Superintendent Brian Betze said the school community will be cheering on the history and global studies teacher this weekend.
“Robbinsville may have its Mets, Phillies and Yankee fans, but we are all certainly Kelly Fleck fans,” Betze said. “What a tremendous opportunity for her. We are all very proud.”
Fleck said she is squarely focused on the best-of-seven series against the Padres, but can’t help but dream what would happen if the Phillies win the whole thing. “The Ballgirls would certainly be in the parade,” she said. “And, who knows, maybe we will get a World Series ring!”
It all depends, this teacher notes, if the Phillies make some history.