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Fancred Spotlight: Jen Royle from Sports Reel Boston
Fancred: What was the moment you knew that you wanted to cover sports for a living?
Jen: Well, I grew up in Boston so it was impossible to not be a Red Sox fan, not with my father and two brothers. I toyed with a lot of different careers/professions (chef, CIA agent, psychiatrist) but I always knew in the back of my head I wanted to get involved in baseball in some way, shape or form. I will say this, I always knew I didn’t want to work in an office or do anything that required me watching a clock waiting for 5pm to strike. I’ve always been creative and care-free in my life outside of work, so I knew whatever I did for a living would have to be somewhat fun and of course challenging.
I’m one of those people that if given the choice to take the easy path or difficult path, I’d take the difficult one just to see if I could handle it. And if I failed, at least I failed trying.
It wasn’t until I moved to New York City in 2000 when I realized a career in sports was possible… because anything is possible in New York. I started writing for random websites (for free) and making as many contacts in the industry as possible. I finally nailed an interview at The YES Network in 2003 (New York Yankees) and was hired as a freelance writer about a week later. I honestly never thought 11 years later I’d have a Sports Emmy and my own radio show here in Boston, that’s for sure.
FC: Which person had the biggest effect on your career?
J: This may be a horrible answer but it’s the truth. Nobody.
I think I had the biggest affect on my career. I was always pushing myself to do more and learn more. Once I left YES, I worked for MLB Network Radio on Sirius/XM and covered about 150 MLB games for a year and a half (2008-2009). The Mets and Yankees are never home at the same time so I shuffled between Yankee Stadium and Shea/Citi Field nearly every day. Since the station was national, I had to cover the visiting team as well, which of course was challenging.
I could have stayed on the Mets/Yankees side of the stadium on some days, but I didn’t. I always made sure I went into the visiting clubhouse to introduce myself to the manager and some of his players. I would check the rosters before every series and see who I knew coming in and made a point to personally touch base with that guy. It’s sounds corny but this business is all about building relationships and keeping them.
Traveling in the heat and rain to the Bronx and Queens and returning home to the West Village, sometimes at 2am on the subway, was just something I had to do. Sometimes it was for very little money.
But now that I own my own business, those relationships, aka MLB players, are now willing to write for me. So in the end, it all pays off. The harder you work the further you get. It’s that simple.
FC: Of all the stories and topics that you’ve covered, which one are you the most proud of?
A: I’ve covered some incredible events so it would be impossible to chose just one. I would say the Red Sox home opener in 2005 vs. the Yankees when the team got their 2004 World Series rings and Fenway Park dropped the Championship banner over The Green Monster. That was up there. I covered so many exciting Yankees-Red Sox games, including the post season, and was front and center for a lot of their drama. The closing of the old Yankee Stadium in 2008 was pretty cool. I remember being on the field with the ‘08 Yankees in front of 55,000 people who were still in their seats and collecting dirt from the mound with Mariano Rivera.
And of course the 2009 World Series was amazing. Just being one of what… 100 people in the world who were allowed in that post game clubhouse for the champagne bath… Amazing experience.
FC: What is the greatest game you’ve ever attended?
J: Easy. I wasn’t a reporter yet but May 28, 2000 — Yankee Stadium. Pedro vs. Clemens. Both starters pitched into the ninth inning with the game scoreless. Trot Nixon hit a two-run home run off Clemens in the 9th to put the Red Sox up 2-0 for the victory. It was one of the last games I remember watching as a fan and actually enjoying.
FC: Which piece of sports memorabilia do you wish you owned?
J: I’m not really into sports memorabilia, to be honest. But over the past few years, I realized I have nothing to really show my children someday in terms of what mommy did her in her career. Haha.
So I started collecting MLB game jerseys from players I have built friendships with. I have five right now and they are awesome. If the player’s number is 25, the two is filled with a little message and the five is their autograph. I love them all and am so appreciative to the players to gave me a jersey and took the time to write a message. Now I just need to get them framed and find some wall space.
FC: What is the craziest thing you’ve ever seen while covering a sporting event?
J: Nothing too crazy. I saw a triple play at Shea Stadium once. Somebody on the Phillies turned one in 2008. That was pretty cool. And I watched Chase Wright, a rookie pitcher for the Yankees, give up back-to-back-to-back-to-back (four) home runs to the Red Sox at Fenway Park. It was unbelievable. If I remember correctly it was Manny Ramirez, JD Drew, Mike Lowell and Jason Varitek. Poor kid.
FC: What does “sports credibility” mean to you?
J: Knowing your stuff. Period. There are so many different types of female reporters in the sports industry but in all honesty, some of them are absolutely clueless and have no idea what they are talking about. If you cover baseball and don’t know the numbered positions (SS=6, LF=7, etc) and don’t know what a balk is, that’s pathetic.
There are way too many women who fake their way through their sports jobs and don’t put the work in. I’m not perfect by any means, but if I don’t know something, I learn it. It’s that simple. The good thing about working in Boston is the female sports reporters here are very knowledgable. I’m honestly proud to say I work in Boston sports and am friends with some of the most talented women in the industry.
FC: What’s you favorite sports movie?
J: Bull Durham. No contest.
FC: What is your best sports memory?
J: Anything that involved my father.