Newark’s Gina Papili is the First State’s first Phillies ball girl. Find out how she made a superstar slugger smile.
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DT: Do you rub elbows much with the current players these days?
LS: Not as much. They still know me, but a new player would have no idea who I am because I’m not around as much. Players need to become familiar with you and, the position we were in, you had to be around them all the time. So you weren’t always asking them to do something, but when you needed them, they knew it was important.
DT: Was dealing with the players and the Philly sports media ever a headache?
LS: You’re in the middle of the road. You work for the organization but our job is to try to accommodate the media and sometimes that’s very challenging. Philadelphia is a very aggressive media market, similar to Boston and New York. It keeps you stepping. But I think it wore me down a little bit in the later years. I often kidded that you need round shoulders for this job, so that any problems would roll off. It got to a point where things didn’t roll off my shoulders anymore. I turned 70 in September, and it was a good time to step down and spend more time with my wife, my family and my grandkids, who are all still in Wilmington.
DT: Who were the great interview subjects throughout the years?
LS: You had Pete Rose, who was the most PR-conscious player around. Mike Schmidt was hot and cold with the media, then you had Lefty (Steve Carlton), who was the most cooperative player I’d been around until Rose. The 1993 team was a bunch of characters. Darren Daulton was a great help at corralling players for the media. The biggest pain I ever dealt with was John Kruk. He was great when he first came, but then he became a pain. He knows it and we’ve talked about it. And now he’s in the media and he’s very good. Baseball players are humans, and people don’t always realize that. They have their problems and joys like the rest of us. Their wallets are just thicker.
DT: How did you land in Delaware?
LS: I worked for The News Journal in 1962. I had been in Lebanon, Pennsylvania, writing general reporting and news for the Daily News. I learned a lot about journalism in Wilmington. But the Phillies job opened up, and it was right place, right time. I learned very early that I wasn’t the smartest guy in the business, but I made a vow that nobody would outwork me.
DT: Do you find Delawareans are pretty on the ball with regard to the Phillies?
LS: Yeah, Bob Carpenter owned the team when I joined the organization. The DuPont Company would always run trains up to Connie Mack Stadium to get Delaware fans up there. Dallas Green, Chris Short are from Delaware. Ruly Carpenter and I were hired by the Phillies on the same week, him in accounting, me in PR. In 1972 he became president and I was still in PR.
DT: Who’s the best sportswriter in the business?
LS: I’ve been around so many of them. Bill Conlin was a great baseball writer when he was younger. Rich Hoffman writes very good things, gets both sides involved, and grasps what others don’t.
DT: How satisfying is winning the World Series?
LS: Back in the middle of the 70s, we had a good team, made the playoffs a couple times, but couldn’t win the whole thing. Chris Wheeler at the time said the only way to shut people up is to win the whole thing. So it is a sense of satisfaction. It blows my mind that we were 7-0 at home in the playoffs. You look at this team, we probably have the greatest shortstop in team history, the best second baseman, the best first baseman and a young pitcher with a chance to join the team’s all-time elite. The quality in that clubhouse, they’re all great guys. Charlie deserves a lot of the credit. And the parade was great. I rode on the float with the trophy, and let me tell you, this one blew 1980 away. —Matt Amis
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