If the Phillies have a First Lady, it might be Jen, due to her position as wife of arguably the team’s biggest draw and her breezy California style, which has made her a hit on the Philadelphia charity circuit. Her passionate activism on behalf of the local SPCA — she organizes an annual night at the ballpark for adopting pets, among other endeavors — has turned her into a philanthropic star, her appearances breathlessly documented by the local press. “My first year in Philadelphia, I was a little lost,” she says now. “It was a really difficult year. I didn’t feel like I had found my place in this new city, with none of my friends and nothing familiar except for my boyfriend.” (The Utleys were married in 2007.) “I went to UCLA and had a great job out of college, and all of a sudden I’m moving to this city where nothing is me, and I don’t have a job and it’s really difficult to hold down a career. And on top of all of that, he travels all the time, and of course I can always travel with him, but it’s still a different city and a hotel room. So it’s a little isolating.”
And unfamiliar. Melissa Victorino met bubbly outfielder Shane in 2004, when he was still a minor leaguer, and soon found herself trying to keep up as her eventual husband — they married last November — was moved around like a chess piece, first to Venezuela, then to Clearwater for spring training, then to Scranton for a year of AAA ball. “I had no idea what I was getting myself into,” she says. “I didn’t understand how he could get sent down. I said to him, ‘Why don’t you just stay in Philly?,’ and he shook his head and said, ‘It doesn’t work like that.’”
It’s something Stephenie LaGrossa found out as well. Already armed with her own claim to fame — like Heidi Hamels, she’d been a popular contestant on the reality show Survivor — she met Kyle Kendrick two years ago. The stress of being involved with a major leaguer nearly sent her over the edge, as tons of teary late-night calls to her girlfriends could attest. But the couple gritted it out, making their bones last year when Kendrick was sent to the minors and they were stripped of all of the perks of the big leagues — including the money. “It turned out to be a really good experience for us,” she says. “Because we were forced to come together.”
Stephenie was also forced to confront her own insecurities about what it means to be part of the imposing Phillies organization. To be a Phillies Wife.