The Lowell Spinners were on the road, playing a doubleheader in Staten Island, N.Y., so all was quiet on an August afternoon at LeLacheur Park on East Campus, home of the Boston Red Sox’ short-season Single A affiliate.
Inside the Spinners’ front offices, team employees went about their business amid a collection of Mookie Betts bobblehead dolls and “Canaligator” ephemera. Among them were recent UML graduate Erin Reynolds ’18 and senior graphic design
major Sara May.
Reynolds, a Dracut native, is the Spinners’ coordinator of creative services and entertainment, a full-time position that she landed in January after working as a video production intern for the team the previous summer.
“I’d never done anything like this, but I’ve really been enjoying the new experience,” says Reynolds, who oversees all aspects of game day entertainment, from the graphics and funny video clips on the left-field scoreboard, to the public address announcements and music played between innings.
It’s no small job. Minor league baseball attendance hit a 14-year low
in 2018. For teams trying to attract fans in the Instagram era, entertaining the crowd during lulls in the action is crucial.
‘Having this experience before my senior year has reassured me that I have gained a lot of skills through school. I feel more confident now.’ -Spinners Intern Sara May
“Engaging fans is definitely the fun part of baseball that I get to control,” says Reynolds, who earned a bachelor’s degree in liberal arts
(with a minor in graphic design and concentrations in English and digital media) from the College of Fine Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
During her senior year, Reynolds met May in a video editing class. While they didn’t collaborate on any projects, they learned about each other’s work style. A year later, when Reynolds needed to hire a video production intern for the summer, she immediately reached out to her former classmate.
“She knew my work ethic,” says May, a Lowell native who is minoring in digital media and art history. The paid internship, which also allowed May to earn three credits, “sounded cool, so I went for it.”
Although they both grew up near LeLacheur Park, neither Reynolds nor May considered themselves baseball fans as kids.
“I remember coming to Spinners games when I was younger, but my favorite part was all the fun stuff going on between pitches,” Reynolds says.
“I actually didn’t even realize the Spinners were here until late in high school,” admits May, a Lowell High grad who says her family was more into football.
But working in the Spinners’ control booth, knowing pop culture references is just as important as knowing about pop-ups on the infield.
“I think this generation, being on our phones all the time, we have a good feel for pop culture references,” May says.
To make people look up from their phones while watching the game, Reynolds and May help dream up clever bits to entertain the crowd. On “Boston Bruins Night,” for instance, they played clips of Spinners players trying to pronounce names like “David Krejci” and “Matt Grzelcyk.” They also added hockey helmets (and deleted a few teeth) from the players’ headshots on the scoreboard. And on the popular “Simba Cam,” they encourage parents to hoist their kids as Mufasa did in “The Lion King.”
“We try to do things that appeal to all ages of fans,” says May, who was able to work with video and photo editing software, a complex computer interface and a live cam that she took into the stands.
Reynolds “had no idea” what she wanted to do heading into college, but she knew she would have plenty of options at UML, where her older brother, James Reynolds, had earned a degree in graphic design in 2009.
“I got lucky and I found something,” says Reynolds, who was drawn to the digital media program in particular. “I’ve always been interested in photography and taking short videos, and that gave me a lot of hands-on experience.”
Working for the Spinners, Reynolds has realized that she also enjoys working in the entertainment field.
“I like being part of a live event, being part of all the moving pieces that the audience doesn’t necessarily see,” says Reynolds, who also helps with the team’s digital advertising, marketing, ticket sales and social media.
May, meanwhile, says the internship opened her eyes to the different opportunities that she can have with graphic design.
“It’s definitely widened my scope on what I might want to do,” says May, who originally majored in fashion at Framingham State University.
It wasn’t the right fit, however, so May transferred to UML her sophomore year. She tried majoring in business administration, but the “artsy” voice in her head convinced her to pursue graphic design instead.
“I definitely feel like I’m in a good spot now,” says May, who credits her Spinners internship for much of that good feeling.
“Before this internship, I felt a little confused and scared,” May says. “But having this experience before my senior year has reassured me that I have gained a lot of skills through school. I feel more confident now.
“And Erin is an awesome boss, so it worked out really well.”