The scene was set for Game 2 of the World Series at Fenway Park. The Red Sox were hoping to take a 2-0 lead over the visiting Cardinals, and brought back members of their 2004 championship team to throw out the ceremonial first pitches.
The mound was flanked by a collection of Red Sox heroes. Pedro Martinez. Jason Varitek. Mike Timlin. Derek Lowe. Kevin Millar.
Oh, and a former Emerson College softball player.
Next to the five former ballplayers, all dressed in white Red Sox jerseys draped over button-down shirts and slacks, Lynn Herman’s light blonde hair and 5-foot-8 frame stood out — at least in comparison to the collection of big-leaguers.
But it was just another day at work for the Emerson alumna, now an ambassador and ball attendee for the 2013 world champion Red Sox.
“When I’m doing the job, it’s almost like television, because you have to get the guys in a certain place, at a certain time, and make sure they’re all together and throwing the ball correctly,” Herman said. “In that moment, it is a job, and I do my job. But when I look back and I see film, or I come off after the first pitch and watch them walk into the dugout, I do always try to take a step back and realize that I was just with guys who will be in the record books forever.”
Most young hardball players who dream of the big leagues don’t make it. Those who play in college can sometimes end up in the minors, and in very rare cases find themselves going straight from college to the bigs.
Herman made the jump straight from Division 3 softball to the high-pressure environment that is Fenway Park, fielding foul balls and flipping souvenirs to fans.
“My first game, I remember having a pit in my stomach, I couldn’t even imagine,” said Herman, who began working for the Red Sox in 2011, her senior year at Emerson. “I’m used to 20-year-old girls hitting fly balls at me, not professional athletes hitting hard ground balls.”
Called up to ‘the Show’
Herman, who also works at the marketing software company HubSpot, technically has two roles for the Red Sox: She serves as a team ambassador and a ball attendee. During her senior year, a pitcher on the Emerson baseball team, Zak Levine, who had a job on the grounds crew for the Sox, told Herman about the ambassador position, and that he thought she should apply. When Herman picked up the application, there was an asterisk at the bottom that said “college softball, other opportunities,” which led her to the ball attendee position.
“I had another interview [in addition to her ambassador interview] where they asked me more in-depth questions about softball, and day-to-day activities that ball attendants are required to do,” she said.
For Herman, there’s at least some familiarity between her ball attendee duties and the defensive role she held on the Emerson softball team.
“I started off my first couple of years only pitching, and obviously you don’t have to play a lot of defense there, but as I got older, I transitioned to the outfield my junior and senior years,” she said. “I just worked hard at it.”
Her Emerson coach, Phil McElroy, said he still pays close attention to her glove work.
“I’ve exchanged a few messages back to her when she doesn’t field the ball cleanly,” said McElroy. “Her glove was fine, she had a strong arm; she just didn’t move real quickly at times.”
Herman said she uses the same glove that she played with at Emerson, making it the most famous piece of her collegiate gear.
“It’s a little big for a baseball,” she said, “but I’m comfortable with it, and don’t want to use anything brand new.”
But in her time at Emerson, Herman was known more for her bat than her glove.
At Emerson, Herman slugged 0.636 in her four seasons as a Lion, while clubbing 68 RBIs. But it was the March 20, 2010 game in New Haven, Conn. against Albertus Magnus that landed Herman in the record books.
“We knew we had a great team that year, and we were trying to do the best we possibly could,” said Herman. It was early in Emerson’s season, and the team had made the nearly three-hour trek to take on the Falcons.
On that day, Herman matched two records—not just for the Division 3 level, but for all NCAA softball players—hitting four home runs against the Falcons, with two in one inning.
“It’s almost one of those things when you black out,” she said. “I hit the first home run, and I was happy to hit a home run. The second home run, I was like, ‘OK, two, interesting.’ The third one, I just couldn’t believe I hit the ball over the fence again.”
By the time Herman came up for her fourth at bat, Emerson was well in the lead, and starters were being swapped out for bench players. McElroy said if he had more reserves, Herman would have come out of the game.
“Usually against an opponent like that, after you’re up a couple of runs, you take everybody out,” he said. “Well, we took everybody out, and the only one remaining player from the starting lineup that remained in the whole game happened to be Lynn. If we had somebody else off the bench to play, we would have put that person in, but she just happened to luck out that day.”
But not only did Herman not need to protest to stay in the game, she didn’t even know she was approaching a milestone.
“After that happened, my coach said something after the game that he was pretty sure it could be a record,” said Herman. “It was one of those things — I didn’t expect to come in that day and hit four home runs, but I’m glad I did.”
While Herman has yet to take advantage of the batting practices at Fenway that the team opens up to employees, she said she’s sure she’ll get a chance to soon, and is game to the challenge of the 37-foot-tall, historic obstacle in her power alley.
“If I just bust a really high pop up, I think I could do it,” Herman said with a grin and a laugh. “I think I could put it over the Monster.”
McElroy said with the mechanics of her swing, it’s entirely possible.
“She was primarily a pull hitter, and she shifted a lot of her weight into the pitch,” McElroy said of his former right-handed cleanup batter. “It was a pretty huge weight shift and she’d get her momentum into the swing.”
Navigating the Field
Herman is a very visible on-field figure for the Red Sox during pregame ceremonies and the game itself. As a team ambassador, she helps coordinate and lead ballpark tours and batting practice trips. With pregame or first pitch ceremonies, she helps get the guest of honor from point A to point B.
Elements of her job have put Herman in front of thousands of fans and millions of viewers, including the time she escorted Johnny Pesky — one of the Red Sox most accomplished hitters and the namesake of Fenway’s right field foul pole — to the mound for the Red Sox 100 Year Anniversary celebration.
“I was almost his go-to girl. I was hanging out with him all the time, making sure he got everything he needed, and he was so sweet,” Herman said of her interaction with Pesky, who died in 2012 at 92. “He was so funny. You’d go up to him, and he’d say, ‘We didn’t have girls like you when I played,’ and just being himself, and being Pesky.”
Herman, a South Florida native, grew up a Marlins fan (before the team rebranded itself as the Miami Marlins). She was able to experience two World Series titles rooting for her local team: one in 1997, and a second in 2003. But Herman said her team of choice has switched since she moved to Boston.
“I’d definitely say the Red Sox are my number one team,” she said.
While Herman said she’s not actively trying to recruit her parents — both Marlins fans — to switch allegiances, the process is slowly happening anyway.
“We were having a conversation last night; we were talking about the pitchers, and how the players were doing, and my dad was using ‘we,’” said Herman, whose parents attended Game 2 of the World Series. “He considered himself a Red Sox fan in the conversation. It was a big step. I didn’t say anything or call him out on anything, but I made a silent, mental note.”
Herman’s mother, Sherrie, said the decision to begin supporting the Red Sox wasn’t a difficult one.
“I think when it’s your daugher, we can kind of easily change,” Sherrie said in a phone interview. “It’s funny because I actually hope for foul balls now.”
Herman’s life is very much centered around the Red Sox and her former softball days. She lives with one of her Emerson teammates, Sarah Beth Murray, and another Red Sox ball attendee, Jackie Dempsey.
“A bunch of girls, two of us are ball girls, and the other one is our biggest fan,” Herman said.
Murray said living with two ball girls has even changed the way she watches Sox games.
“I watch closer now, I’m watching for when they pan to the sides so I can see them,” Murray said. “Lynn is such an outgoing and social person, and she’s athletic, so it’s a perfect fit.”
Murray, who was a pitcher at Emerson, said she had confidence in Herman’s ability in the outfield when she was on the mound.
“A lot of being a ball girl is to know when not to go for the ball,” Murray said. “Being smart and understanding the game is a huge part of it.”
And it’s not just Murray, one of Herman’s good friends, who has recognized her prowess for patrolling the foul lines.
“Last year, when the team wasn’t doing too hot and we were in last place, I had a ball girl chant going on,” said Herman. “I kind of gave them a little nod; I didn’t want to get them too involved.”
Herman said Red Sox ambassadors keep their jobs for life, and can pick up shifts when they choose and please. Her other, more recognizable position is, however, something she has no intention of leaving in the near future.
“Being a ball girl, I don’t want to give up any time soon,” she said. “It’s something that I love and enjoy.”
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