If 10-year-old Graham Foley heard he would be driving around Citizens Bank Park on the back of the Phillie Phanatic’s all-terrain vehicle as his job, he wouldn’t have believed it.
Foley, a 2020 journalism alumnus, and a lifelong Philadelphia sports fan is a social media intern for the Philadelphia Phillies. His job includes filming the Phillie Phanatic and posting on the team’s social media during games.
“My whole mom’s side of the family has had season tickets for the Phillies for years,” Foley said. “So I always went to games with them. I knew that when I was little that that was what I was passionate about.”
He previously interned for the Philadelphia Eagles and the Philadelphia Inquirer where he interviewed players and wrote stories.
During those internships he grew accustomed to “surreal experiences,” he said, like running on a treadmill in the NovaCare Complex next to Nick Foles or hosting a Zoom call with some of the players from the 1980 Phillies championship run, Foley added.
“You need to make it normal, or else you’re not gonna be able to do a good enough job,” Foley said. “You have to be professional with these people, and treat them as humans. I’m always forcing myself to remember it’s normal to be doing this, but in the back of my mind I know it’s the coolest thing.”
Foley grew up listening to Phillies commentator Harry Kalas, which prompted his interest in sports media. By the time he attended Downingtown High School West in Downingtown, Pennsylvania, Foley knew he wanted to be a sports writer, he said.
When Foley came to Temple University, he started working in student media, and began covering high school basketball for City of Basketball Love, a news outlet dedicated to Philadelphia basketball.
“He stuck out to me right away,” said Neil Ortiz, director of multimedia content for Temple’s journalism department. “He’s one of those students who constantly seeks out feedback. He’s constantly looking for ways to improve.”
Once Foley saw Temple Athletics had little social media presence during games, he emailed them repeatedly until they hired him his sophomore year, he said.
That same initiative led Foley to a job with the Eagles.
“I expected to be in the mix of things, but I didn’t expect to be in the locker room literally every day,” Foley said. “I didn’t do any on-camera work before that. My very first day of training camp, he handed me a microphone and there was a camera guy behind me, and I had to interview Zach Ertz.”
Selling 50-50 raffle tickets in Citizens Bank Park during the 2019 Phillies season helped Foley build relationships that ultimately helped him land the job with the team, he added.
Foley likes to write human interest stories on topics like an Eagles player’s favorite flavor of water ice or a father building a replica of Citizens Bank Park for his son, he said.
“We want to make sure we’re reaching our fans every place that they are, and writing a wide variety of stories of interest fits into that strategy very well,” said Michael Harris, the Phillies’ vice president of marketing and new media. “That’s where he’s been very helpful and a key contributor.”
Due to COVID-19 protocols, Foley does not have the clearance to go on the field, but filming the Phillie Phanatic for the mascot’s Instagram page allows him to occasionally get in the stadium.
Foley estimates only about 50 people are in the stadium for any given game, players not included.
“When I was done with the Phanatic, I just went in the stands to watch the game, and I was by myself,” Foley said. “When we look back at this weird season a couple years from now, I’m one of the only people that got to see it in person.”