For the soul of the game

  • LIE SHIA ONG / edge correspondent
  • Monday, August 14, 2000 9:00pm
  • Local News

M’s ball girl combines art and activism

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Patience pays, especially when the payoff means getting the opportunities of a lifetime. In the case of Rosey Santizo, her patience, persistence and positive attitude landed her a job with the Seattle Mariners as a ball girl.

Santizo was born in Guatemala before moving to the Northwest when she was very young. As a young girl, Santizo and her father, who is legally blind, shared a common love of baseball.

"My dad gave me the gift of understanding the game on a high level," Santizo said. "Because he couldn’t see the game well enough, we would sit down together and listen to every radio broadcast, which helped me develop a lot of mental skills for the game."

Santizo’s love for baseball grew even more after she began to play.

"I started out playing Snoopy softball when I was seven, and ever since then I was hooked on the sport," Santizo said.

After coming home from playing in a rainy softball game one day, Santizo noticed a ball girl on TV fielding a ball down the foul line.

"I thought to myself, ‘Hey I can do what she’s doing,’ and then I proceeded to set my mind on researching about a ball girl job," Santizo said.

After Santizo researched newspapers, Mariner magazines, radio and TV stations to no avail, she finally got the information she was looking for from a Seattle Mariners account representative.

Unfortunately, that was 1994, the year that the Kingdome’s ceiling tiles fell — forcing the Mariners out on the road for all of their games — and a players’ strike wiped out the end of the season.

The account representative was let go and Santizo had lost her connection. But she pressed on and found another person to contact.

"I sent a letter about my interest in being a ball girl along with a sketch of the Mariners team," Santizo explained. "I soon received an application in the mail, and I filled it out and sent it in. However, I got a letter of rejection because of the strike the prior year."

But in late August 1995, Santizo got the call. The Mariners wanted her to work for them as a "domer" — a person who helps in the front office and with pregame festivities. There were no ball girl positions open that year, but it was the entry point for which Santizo was looking.

"The day I got hired was the day that the Mariners made it into first place in 1995. It was perfect timing. All the waiting had been worth it," Santizo said. "I then could say that I got hired the first year the Mariners made it to the playoffs."

Finally, in 1996, Santizo tried out for the ball girl position and made it.

"They hit us each ten balls and the best fielders were picked," Santizo explained. She has been a ball girl ever since.

There are many duties for a ball girl. There are nine ball girls total, which means that each usually works every three games.

"We need to arrive about one hour before the game starts and we have to assist with on-field events such as the national anthem and the first pitch. We also have to bring the pitcher’s jacket from the bullpen to the dugout," Santizo said.

"During the game we field the foul balls and give them to the kids in the stands," she added.

Another passion Santizo has is art.

"I have always loved to draw," Santizo said. "I have never had any formal art training, but I began drawing the Mariners I really admired in order to express my love for the game. But I think when you have a real passion for something, it seems to come easy," she said.

It came so easy that when Santizo turned 18, she had her own business, becoming the youngest official licensee of the Major League Baseball Players Association and marketing her art all over the country.

Rosey Art, as she calls it, is displayed in many places across the country, including the Field of Dreams store in Bellevue and the Legends of the Game baseball museum in Arlington, Texas. Her work will soon be featured, along with Leroy Neiman’s, in a large exhibit celebrating Latin American Baseball stars at the Yogi Berra Museum in New York.

As a ball girl, the now-21-year-old Santizo has been able to help her community here in Washington and back home in Latin America.

"I’m working to help improve the educational system in baseball academics in the Dominican Republic," she said. "Everyone deserves a well-rounded education and something to fall back on."

Through her artwork, she has raised thousands of dollars for charities such as the Make A Wish Foundation and Esperanza.

This year, Santizo became the first Hispanic to make Seafair royalty, and won the Spirit of Seafair Award. She will use this platform to promote D.R.E.A.M. — Drug Free, Respect, Education, Attitude and Motivation.

Santizo is also working on a coffee-table book recounting her adventure in baseball to serve as an inspiration to others.

"The book will document the positive and colorful aspects of the game behind the game," Santizo said. "It will provide an inspiring and humorous look into the soul of baseball, through the very words of those in the middle of the magic."

Through all her perseverance, patience and positive beat, Rosey Santizo has arguably become the most notable Mariners ball girl.

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