As a catcher for the 2018 Severna Park High School 4A state championship team, Abby Becker always had her eye on the ball. When she saw her chance to work for the Baltimore Orioles as a ball girl during the 2019 season, she had no trouble keeping her eye on her new target.
“For my dad and I, it was a dream for a while, but you have to be 18,” said Becker, a rising sophomore at the University of Maryland. “Once I turned 18, I was ready to give it a shot.”
During tryouts on March 9, more than 30 challengers convened at Camden Yards for ball boy and ball girl tryouts. Team officials sought candidates who were outgoing and athletic, two traits Becker got to show off as she fielded ground balls and answered two questions on camera: why do you want to be an Orioles ball girl and who is your favorite player?
For the first response, she cited her passion for the sport and for meeting people. Her reply to the second question focused on a former fan favorite in Baltimore who made his first All-Star game as an Atlanta Brave last season.
“Nick Markakis is my favorite player because when I played softball, I was never the best or the loudest,” Becker said. “We’re both quiet players, so we’re similar.”
That assessment was shared by her father, Joe, who coached her from ages 6 through 18 in travel ball. “She’s not the boisterous type to stand up and get attention, but she’s going to do her job well,” he said.
Becker also did well during her tryout. She was called back for a follow-up interview and a tour of the warehouse at Camden Yards.
“They asked basic questions to make sure I knew about baseball,” she said. “They wanted to feel out my intentions and my spirit.”
Although she “felt like I really had no shot,” Becker was selected as one of six new ball girls for 2019 home games. The Orioles brought back two ball girls for a total of eight. Two girls work each home game, so Becker gets to attend three to four games each month.
“We were looking for candidates with softball or baseball experience who were personable, customer service oriented, and available throughout the Orioles 2019 season,” said Heather Turnour, coordinator for game entertainment. “Abby’s affable personality and varsity softball experience with Severna Park High School make her a great fit for the position.”
Becker retrieves foul balls, runs scripts with the MASN television crew before broadcasts, helps special guests prepare for the ceremonial first pitch, and pumps up the crowd for the “charge” rally.
“I get to meet people from all over the country, so that’s my favorite part,” Becker said. “I met some people from Toronto when the Blue Jays were in town, and there are some great fans in Baltimore. One man has been a season ticket holder for 40 years.”
Becker has met former Orioles like Jim Palmer and has spoken to a few current players when they initiated conversation.
She enjoyed the father-daughter catch on Father’s Day and watching Mike Mussina hurl the first pitch June 30 in advance of his Hall of Fame induction on July 21. Other highlights came courtesy of 10-year-old Sara Hinesley, who won the Zaner-Bloser National Handwriting Contest, and Addam Bostick, who returned from his station in Afghanistan to catch the ceremonial first pitch from his father, former Marine Stephen Bostick.
“One day, [June 28], the first pitch was thrown by a girl without hands,” said Becker, explaining how Sara tossed the ball. “For another one, a son surprised his dad. He was deployed and he caught the first pitch.”
As for Becker’s own dad, he is proud of her. “You wish any kid could have the same experience,” Joe said, “whether it’s playing softball or being second chair for oboe.”
Becker is likely limited to this one year as an Orioles ball girl, but she is enjoying every minute of the experience.
“I feel like softball gave me a great experience of making a lot of friends and having fun, so I wanted to spread that joy of softball,” she said.