A Diamond’s Best Friend

Hone your stamina, speed and skills to make the cut as a Nationals ball girl

February 14, 2012

Ball girl Kelly McDonald gets one of the best views during any Nationals game.

If you start running around on the field during a Nationals game — and you’re not actually a player — you’re probably going to get arrested. That is, unless you’re one of the ball girls. The veteran in Washington is 28-year-old Kelly McDonald, who’s entering her fourth season with the team. With auditions coming up (see box), she shared her tips on how to knock it out of the park.

Play Catch. There’s no rule that you need to have baseball experience. But if you want to be in the major leagues, it helps to be familiar with the game, the rules and, of course, catching. “If there’s any way to go out and throw a ball with a friend, do it,” says McDonald, who plays on a softball team.

Run for It. Not only do ball girls have to go after foul balls (and hand them to kids), but they also need to dash between the bullpen and the dugout to get the pitcher’s jacket every time there’s a pitching change. And on hot summer days, that can translate into a lot of sweaty sprinting. McDonald, who was on her high school track team, still runs regularly to stay in shape.

Make Your Move. Every time a ball has hurtled toward her head, McDonald’s been able to jump out of the way to avoid it. She credits her agility to taking hip-hop cardio classes.

Be a Brainiac. A key part of the paid gig is knowing what’s fair and what’s foul. But even if you’ve studied up on your rules, you have to remember to keep your head in the game. “There’s a lot of mental focus required because you have to pay attention to every pitch that’s thrown,” she says. McDonald always makes sure she gets plenty of sleep and a protein bar before that first pitch.

Your Pitch

Think you’re ball girl material? Send a recent head shot, cover letter and resume to Entertainment@nationals.com by Feb. 21. Finalists will be invited to come to tryouts at Nationals Park on Feb. 25. Candidates must be at least 18 years old, live in the D.C. area and be willing to work early mornings, late nights, weekends and holidays.

Vicky Hallett is a MisFits columnist and the Fit editor for Express.
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