Baseball Provides Stability, Draws Out Ballgirl's Talents
Seattle Times Staff Reporter
She doesn't so much sit on a stool in front of the Kingdome bullpens as she hovers over one, poised to spring at a moment's notice. Her left hand is covered by a baseball glove garnished by autographs and her artwork. Her legs are dotted with turf burns, a sort of self-imposed occupational hazard.
Usually, the ballgirls blend into the motif of a Mariner home game. But, as Mariner outfielder Shane Monahan says, "You notice her." When she takes the field, fans ringing the stadium abutments offer hands to be slapped. They cry from the stands, "Hey, Rosey!"
See, when Rosey Santizo patrols the baselines, the nights always offer the potential for something extra. Like last month, when she overeagerly dived at and deflected a ground ball, ruled fair, off the bat of Toronto's Craig Grebek. Santizo's plunging exploits have been featured so many times on CNN, ESPN, "This Week in Baseball" and the like that M's employees have taken to calling her, "Airtime."
"She plays that ballgirl position like a shortstop," Mariner first baseman David Segui says.
Santizo, 19, can't help but try giving back to a sport that, along with God, she believes, stayed her during forlorn, sometimes turbulent times. Baseball has had an almost magical presence in her young life. The day the Mariners hired her - Aug. 26, 1995 - is the day the team took possession of first place during its storied pennant drive.
"Baseball has been my stability," Santizo says.
Late in that summer of 1995, Santizo picked up a No. 2 pencil and, without ever having taken an art class, crafted an amazing likeness of Edgar Martinez. During Santizo's two-plus-year quest to catch on with the Mariners, someone sent her a newspaper clipping headlined, "Patience pays for Edgar Martinez." His patience inspired hers.
Now it is effecting something wondrous. Santizo kept drawing. People noticed. Joey Cora requested several pieces for his foundation's charity auction. So did Dave Valle, for his benefit program, Esperanza. Segui has kept Santizo's portrait of Roberto Clemente in his locker-room stall and keeps her portrait of him above the mantle in his home.
Santizo recently was granted licensing from the Major League Baseball Players Association. In an unusual deal, Santizo receives her license in exchange for three autographed pieces of her art per year, plus nine percent of her royalties. Not bad for an artist who still has no formal training.
"I just draw what I see," Santizo says. "It just comes out of my pencil. I have no explanation, other than it's the only way I have to express my love for the game."
Santizo has sold 12 pieces to the Mariners, to be retailed in their Dugout team stores. She has other talents for which there is scant explanation. Santizo has a knack for acting and was cast in a 1996 Reebok commercial for a Shawn Kemp-endorsed sneaker. Mariner broadcaster Rick Rizzs saw Santizo act in a local production on Vashon Island and says, "She stole the show, just like she often steals the show (in the Kingdome)."
Still, Santizo has a grander goal. She traveled avidly to be with her family in Guatemala, where she is from, until she was 12, and became hooked on baseball while listening to games on the radio with her father, who is legally blind. Santizo wants to retain her connection between baseball and her background; a former co-worker sent a job description for supervisor of baseball operations in Latin America, a post she now covets.
The path from ballperson to major-league baseball operative is not an uncharted one. Dave Venneri, the Mariners' regional marketing director, got his start in the organization as a ballboy in 1982.
Pursuing such a path would, for Santizo, mean taking college courses and working in the Mariner front office during the day, while ballgirling and working customer service for the M's at night. Throw in Rosey Art, her portrait business, and an impending Rosey the Ballgirl Web site. And, oh yeah, Santizo still wants to act and model and play tennis.
As Tom DeVries, a science teacher at Vashon Island High, once wrote in a letter of recommendation for Santizo, "She seems intent on squeezing several lifetimes out of one."
On nights she was scheduled to protect the Kingdome bullpens, Santizo reported to work 2 1/2 hours before game time. Part of arriving so early was to accommodate a routine. Most of it was because she simply couldn't wait to get started.
A good 45 minutes until the opening pitch, Santizo already had her glove and wristbands out, resting on a pair of stools. She was ready, even if the rest of the stadium was not.
"For me, it's so hard not to make an effort," she says. "It's so hard not to just go for it."
Rosey Santizo is speaking of a foul ball. It would be a good metaphor for her life, in general.
Inquiries about Rosey Santizo's art can be made through the Mariners at 206-930-9020, or by e-mail: email@example.com
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