“I was nervous that they didn’t like me, so I kind of sat quiet, which I don’t necessarily think is the right thing to do,” she says of her initial meetings with the other players’ wives. “I think you should be the bigger person and be outgoing, introduce yourself. I was the new girl, and wasn’t in with the cool clique. I usually have millions of friends, so I wasn’t used to people not being like, ‘Hey, how are you?!’ They were kind of doing their own thing.”
But eventually she found a way into the circle — with a little nudge. “I would sit there with my head down in the family room, waiting for Kyle to come out, and Erin Romero [wife of pitcher J.C.] would kind of bend down underneath to look me in the eye and wave and say, ‘Uh, hi!’ Trying to get me out of my shell. I don’t know — I just didn’t think they liked me. But they’re all super nice to me now.”
While the public’s image of the Phillies wives may be that they’re a giggling group of Sandys, Frenchys and Rizzos getting mani-pedis after Pilates class, it’s completely erroneous. They’re like the wives of any other group of company guys — closer to some than others, but certainly not bonded the way their husbands are. For one thing, they don’t shower together.
And even when deep friendships do form among the wives, they can be a struggle to maintain. Tery Ibanez and Karen Moyer met in Seattle and reconnected here, but the winds of free agency rarely reunite players’ wives so tidily. Jen Utley became close with Marianne Rowand, wife of center fielder Aaron, before his trade, and Kristi Bell, the wife of former third baseman David, whom she sat next to during home games. That seat now belongs to Jen’s pal Julia Werth — who may also fly the Phillies’ coop after this season.
JOHARI ROLLINS IS the kind of woman you can’t help but stare at, and keep staring at, long after the point where you know you’re being rude. Of all of the Phillies wives, she may be the most beautiful, with flawless skin the color of chocolate milk and the high, slicing cheekbones of a supermodel. Dressed smartly in a figure-hugging black nylon zip jacket and jeans, she’s sitting at a table by a window in Parc on Rittenhouse Square — where she and Jimmy held their engagement dinner — and sipping a cup of coffee. She looks reserved, which by her own admission she is, and also slightly uncomfortable, which is probably because of the question I’ve just thrown at her. It’s the one question everybody wants to ask any woman whose husband is a professional athlete these days: How do you deal with it?