NEW YORK — The last thing “Sweep Girl” wants to be associated with is housework.
At the end of the fifth inning at Fenway Park, Colleen Reilly, a 25-year-old community affairs staffer, runs around the bases with a broom sweeping them as she goes. Base sweeping at major league games dates back to the 1950s, but Boston reinstated it this year. It could also refer to a grand slam home run that sweeps the bases clean of runners or the winning of all games in a series by one team, also known as “getting out the broom.”
She doesn’t yet have the name recognition of Pedro Martinez, noting that sometimes fans call her “Broom Girl,” a nickname she doesn’t care for. From a seat in the bleachers near the park’s legendary Green Monster, her attire might look like just a skirt and top, but it’s actually a replica uniform from the All American Girls’ Baseball League. K&P Weaver, a Connecticut-based company, customized it after the players’ original uniforms from 1943, the year the league was founded.
“This is its 60-year anniversary. We wanted to pay tribute to all those great women,” Reilly said. “From far away, not everyone realizes what it is.”
Given that, Reilly thought the highly domestic act of sweeping contradicted her salute to female athletic pioneers. So she decided to sling some baseballs to the grounds’ crew along the way. She still wears the uniform, complete with bloomers, baseball cap, “socks from the clubhouse” and Adidas sneakers.
To remind her of the early woman baseball players’ trials, Reilly keeps on her desk a copy of “A Guide for All American Girls,” a primer about personal appearance issued by the league.
“Hygienically, I’m up to speed,” she said. “As for rouging my lips, applying powder and walking around with a book on my head, no way.”
Conductor John Williams tossed a few musical suggestions Reilly’s way, after he threw out the opening pitch at Fenway. She has swept to those, as well as to Bruce Springsteen’s anthems.
As for how fans will respond during the American League Championship Series, with games to be played at Fenway this weekend, Reilly said, “It’s not a sexist thing or a sexy thing. There are people who get it and people who don’t — just like everything else in this world.”But then, Red Sox fans have always been a philosophical bunch.
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