July 19, 2021
In the Big League
Most Boston Red Sox fans call the team’s mascot, Wally, “the Green Monster.” Taryn Braz ’14 calls him her co-worker. “I do know Wally personally,” Taryn said, smiling. “He’s an icon.”
What’s perhaps even more iconic is calling America’s oldest ballpark your office. Since 2017, Braz has been working for the Red Sox, first as a Fan Clubs Representative intern, and now as Special Events Assistant for Fan and Youth Engagement.
“I knew I always wanted to work in sports,” Braz said. “It was almost a non-negotiable for me.” Her passion for professional sports was ignited at a young age by her father, a Rhode Island native who spends half of the year bleeding blue for Duke basketball, and the other half organizing family pilgrimages to Fenway Park. Braz estimates that she’s been to over 100 Red Sox games in her lifetime so far.
“My dad really got me good with sports,” Braz said. “But I do think playing sports growing up also led me to want to learn what goes on behind the scenes.” A former KO softball star, Braz captained the team in her junior and senior season, earning the MVP honors consecutively both years. Her talent helped the Wyverns win the 2014 Western New England Prep School Girls Softball Association (WNEPSGSA) Championship and qualify as a WNEPSGSA Class B Finalist in 2013.
But Braz says her time as a Wyvern athlete taught her so much more than how to hit a home run or push for that final sprint during a tough practice. Rather, the takeaways that continue to guide her personal and professional life are grounded in a strong sense of motivation, self-discipline, and a willingness to step up into any role, on or off the field.
“I’ve learned not to be too proud to do the dirty work,” Braz said. “People notice those that show up and don’t complain. Those who are early, work hard, and stay late. It really does get rewarded.”
In the Spring of 2014, Braz committed to play softball at the collegiate level for Providence College. She stayed with the Friars for two years before transferring to Boston College in Newton, Mass. At BC, Braz took an on-campus job with the campus recreation center and began applying for internship opportunities with her dream team.
“I ended up getting a Game Day job, which was a lot of fan-facing interactions and working with the Red Sox’s two loyalty programs,” Braz explained. “I really liked it because there were a lot of relationship-building opportunities as well as the overall experience of enhancing people’s time at Fenway Park.” The internship also provided Braz ample opportunity to collaborate with the Red Sox marketing department and learn about local community engagement initiatives and event planning. As BC graduation approached, so did an open position on the team for a full-time job. Braz leveraged her internship experience, applied, and was accepted, officially becoming the Special Events Assistant for Fan and Youth Engagement.
She now works alongside a team of six people and is responsible for hiring and training Game Day interns, while coordinating a number of high-level community events throughout the year. One of her favorites takes place for one week each summer, as part of Major League Baseball’s “Play Ball!” initiative, created to inspire youth to play baseball. The Sox partner with the Miracle League of Massachusetts, a baseball league for teens and young adults with disabilities, and create a special atmosphere filled with prizes, World Series trophies, virtual reality experiences, and of course, Wally.
“It’s just a really cool event because these are young adults who might not have the opportunity to go to Fenway for a regular game for a variety of reasons,” Braz said. “Being able to connect with them and help them feel like valuable Red Sox fans means everything.”
But when it comes to future event planning, the team continues to face challenges due to COVID-19.
“Considering that a lot of what we do and plan for is executed face-to-face, that was a big transition for me,” Braz said, reflecting on the pandemic roller-coaster of a year. “I thought, ok, we can’t have these events. So how do we still connect with fans? How do we still keep that same level of engagement?”
The Sox have filled the gaps with virtual events and webinars, and plan on limiting the park to 12 percent capacity to begin the 2021 season, evening out to just under 5,000 fans filling stadium seats. Wally will sport a facemask as he makes his rounds throughout the park, tickets are now sold in two- and four-person pod packs, and plans are in place for a staff compliance crew to hold game-goers accountable to COVID-19 protocols.
“They’re going to be in charge of walking around the park and making sure people are following the guidelines,” Braz explained, “appropriate six feet of social distancing in lines, masks, seating, all of that.”
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