When Baltimore Orioles pinch hitter Rio Ruiz hits a line drive foul that ricochets off the screen beyond first base and into the outfield, Mookie Betts doesn’t move a muscle in right field.
Fenway Park ball attendant Katie Burt dashes into the outfield, scoops up the ball barehanded, and presents it to a wide-eyed kid in the stands during an April game at Fenway Park.
Just another save by the All-Star goalie for the Boston Pride of the National Women’s Hockey League.
“This is just pure fun,” says Burt, sitting on a stool down the right-field line, flexing her old Ryan Braun-model glove.
Burt banters with fans and applauds Red Sox home runs by clapping into her glove, but when the pitcher delivers, she’s always focused. Just as when she’s in goal.
“I thought about using my goalie glove,” she says. “It’s white, it would get dirty. So I’ll stick with the baseball mitt.”
Burt loves her summer job. The ball attendant position — she uses the less politically correct “ball girl” — is a dream job.
On Opening Day, she was in charge of directing alumni to their spots on the left side of the infield during the championship ring ceremony. That meant hanging out with David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez and even yelling a little at Curt Schilling when he wandered off toward the current players.
When she was growing up in Lynn, those were her heroes.
“I was 7 years old in 2004,” she says. “And I stayed up way too late watching them win.”
At Fenway, she’s all smiles, fist-bumping fans, catching first pitches, presenting foul balls to children, and making new friends.
“Humble fits her very well,” says Joe Darrah, a Sox fan from New Hampshire seated in the front row. “She’s down to earth. She interacts well with the fans, too. You see her all the time making catches and plays. You can tell she’s athletic.”
The ball attendants switch sides midgame.
“I have the best seat in the house,” says Burt. “To sit on the field is just remarkable.”
Also remarkable is her résumé.
She has always been a star athlete. She made the front of the Globe sports section as an 11-year-old middle school student with braces on her teeth who was given a special waiver to start for Lynn English High School when its goalie was injured.
She became the winningest goalie in NCAA women’s history at Boston College. And in her rookie season in the NWHL, she led the league in saves.
But baseball is her first love.
At 12, she won Lynn’s City Home Run Derby, beating all the boys. She was an All-Star pitcher in Babe Ruth League, then grudgingly moved into softball in high school.
Baseball’s loss was hockey’s gain.
She became a Facebook sensation when she made a fully extended sno-cone catch on a wicked liner down the right-field line. Those were the days before the netting was extended into the outfield.
Sox play-by-play announcer Dave O’Brien called the catch “sensational.”
“She saves everybody, including those fans,” said O’Brien.
“A good play, any way you look at it,” said Hall of Fame analyst Dennis Eckersley.
Back at BC, her hockey teammates went ballistic.
“I think we spent more time watching that and quizzing her on her baseball background than we did actually studying,” says Lexi Bender, a teammate at BC and again with the Pride.
“She’s just freakishly athletic.”
Burt downplays the attention she got on social media.
“You just try to go out there and try not to look dumb, to be honest,” she says. “The first thing that I think is to try and protect the fans. I’m not trying to make the ‘Top Ten.’ The goal is don’t make the ‘Not Top Ten.’ That’s the ultimate goal here. Don’t do something dumb.”
Now in her fifth season at Fenway, she says that last year’s Sox team was special.
“You could tell that they loved each other,” she says.
She stayed up and watched the entire 18-inning World Series game until 3 a.m. even though the Pride had a game that evening.
She is also fearless. Before this year’s NWHL All-Star Game, she practiced with the NHL’s Nashville Predators. The 5-foot-6-inch Burt defended the Predators’ 6-6 Brian Boyle.
“His hips are taller than I am,” she says. “It was a blast. It was an honor.”
Boyle, also a BC Eagle, was equally impressed.
“She looked good,” says Boyle. “She was so quick to react. On screens and deflections, she was seeing every puck.”
Boyle believes a female netminder will someday play in the NHL.
“100 percent,” he says. “I think it’s bound to happen.”
But Burt disagrees.
“No, no,” she says. “We’re not built to play in the NHL.
“Nope, we don’t belong in the NHL. We have a different style of game. More finesse. They’re bigger, they’re faster, and they’re stronger. Somebody could die getting hit by one of those guys.”
But don’t camp out in front of her goal. Male or female.
“If you’re going to be in my crease, you’re going to get a beating,” she says.
In 2015, Burt won a gold medal for Team USA in the Under-18 World Championships in Buffalo. She celebrated with an American flag draped around her neck, a la “Miracle on Ice” goalie Jim Craig.
But in that very same arena, in March of this year, the Pride were eliminated from the NWHL playoffs by the Buffalo Beauts.
It was not a good night for Boston. The officials called five penalties against the Pride and only two against Buffalo in the 4-0 loss. Some of Burt’s teammates thought they were tucking it to Boston because of all the “City of Champions” publicity. Burt dismissed all such notions.
“We can yell and scream about it all day long, but that’s not going to help us in the end,” she says. “So you've just got to battle through.”
After the game, Burt, who is unsigned for next season, lugged her oversized gym bag to the sidewalk outside HarborCenter and waited alone for the van ride back to Boston.
“I’ll try my best to forget about it, but it’s always in the back of your head,” she says. “You don’t really get over losses like this.”
For her, baseball and hockey have plenty of similarities.
“The ball’s coming at you like 80 [miles per hour], the puck’s coming at you like 60, 70, 80,” she says.
In both sports, she knows she’s not perfect, that she sometimes makes errors. But the goal is the same. To make sure nothing gets by her.
“Watch out for [Rafael] Devers,” she warns the fans near canvas alley. “He kills it down here.”
Then after the pitch, she relaxes.
“I’m really glad the net is up there,” she says. “It takes a lot of stress out of my job.”
Stan Grossfeld can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.