O's host ball boy and ball girl tryouts

Orioles host ball boy and ball girl tryouts

BALTIMORE -- The Orioles are a major part of Holly Kruse's life in so many ways. The 21-year-old Essex, Md. resident has followed the team for years, has the team's shirts and hats and even uses an orange cell phone.

That's why she had to come to Oriole Park at Camden Yards on Saturday afternoon. Kruse was one of about 75 people who tried out to be an Orioles ball boy and ball girl in 2007, and it's a job she wanted badly.

"I think I'm ready to be a ball girl," she said after her tryout ended. "It was awesome. I've never been on the field before."

Kruse is a longtime softball player, often at second base, and worked with her younger brother on her fielding skills to get ready for the tryouts.

That work paid off handsomely as Kruse made several nice fielding plays on this day. An Orioles employee hit a number of balls to each person trying out that they had to field. The first ball Kruse got was a shot that bounced off a Bank of America sign down the left-field foul line and came right up to her a few feet away.

Kruse fielded it smoothly, as she did with the rest of the balls hit to her.

"I didn't miss," she said afterwards. "I guess that's a good thing."

Each person who showed up had to do some different things. The Orioles recorded them on video explaining why they wanted to be a ball boy or ball girl. They had to do things like yell "Charge!" when the familiar music rang throughout the ballpark.

Heather Bressler, the Orioles' in-game entertainment coordinator, said the team was happy with the high turnout. She said the Orioles will review everything they got on this day and do call-back interviews in the next several days and make their final choices by March 30.

The Orioles will pick four to six ball boys/girls and use them on a rotating basis. The team employs two for each game; one sitting down the left-field line and another down the right-field line.

"They're very excited," Bressler. "It's something that, if they can't be down with the team in Florida, then this [is a] way they can be in the ballpark."

There was a true mix of Orioles fans on the field. Men and women, all different ages and each having different wishes, were there hoping to get one of the jobs.

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Levan Reid showed up for professional reasons. He's a weekend sports anchor on WUSA in Washington. But Reid also played baseball while growing up and wanted to have some fun with this.

He was equally prepared to be interviewed, trotting out several well-worn clichés to describe his feelings.

"They don't know what I can bring to the table," he said with a laugh. "I'm looking for a side job. Maybe if they see my skills as a ball boy, they'll put me in the outfield."

For Laurie Johnston, the motive was a bit more serious. She laughingly describes herself as a "still a tomboy." The 44-year-old was the first girl to play football in the area, taking part in the 75-pound division in an Anne Arundel County league a little over 30 years ago.

But she had to battle breast cancer recently. Johnston is cancer-free now and said that experience taught her an important lesson.

"I had to live my dreams now," she said, while standing in front of the third-base dugout. "I'm not taking the chance of not being able to live my dreams, because tomorrow is not guaranteed."

Jeff Seidel is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.