ORLANDO, Fla. -- Like many young baseball fans, Ashley Forlini once dreamed of being a professional baseball player someday.
By the time she was 16, however, she had pretty much figured out that wasn't going to happen.
Instead, she took a part-time summer job with her hometown team, the Double-A Reading Phillies, as a customer service representative, aka "Diamond Girl."
Now, 12 years later, Forlini is the R-Phils' assistant general manager. She is also this year's recipient of the Rawlings Woman Executive of the Year Award.
Created in 1976, the annual award is given at the Baseball Winter Meetings for outstanding contribution to her club, league or to baseball in general.
Forlini recently completed her seventh full season with the Phillies. A fitness and nutrition major at the University of Delaware, she talked her advisor into letting her do the required internship with her hometown team in 2000 and, basically, she never left.
"It wasn't really a fitness/nutrition internship, but I begged my advisor to let me do something a little out of the ordinary and I was back home," she said. "My first game ever was in the same ballpark I work in every day so I'm very lucky."
In that time, she has served in an expanding number of roles, including group sales assistant, director of fan development, director of group sales and fan development and director of group sales and game presentation.
She also oversaw the club's fast-expanding internship program of which she herself was once a member. Her duties there included hiring the eight to 10 summer interns that help keep things running smoothly.
Of the club's current crew of 22 full-time staffers, 16 started with the Phillies as one of Forlini's interns.
Following the conclusion of the 2006 season, Forlini was promoted once again to her new assistant GM title.
But that doesn't mean she's not going to continue working in the capacities that she and the Reading fans have become accustomed to.
"It's so hard for me to let go of things so my job hasn't really changed, I've just added a few things," said Forlini. "I'm still involved in our internship program even though I'm not the supervisor anymore, and I'm still involved in our group sales department even though I'm not the director."
Forlini has been a familiar face to the local fans, orchestrating the in-game (and pre-game and sometimes post-game) entertainment, both on the field and in the stands.
"I still want to be on the field as much as I can whether it's behind the microphone or lining up first pitches, just being out there," she said. "Because that's how the fans know me, I've been out there since I was a teenager."
That dedication, day in and day out, made her an easy choice for the Eastern League to nominate for the award this year.
"Ashley's contributions to the Phillies organization and the Reading community are numerous," said Eastern League President Joe McEacharn. "She is a role model not only in the baseball industry, but equally importantly outside the baseball industry. Her excellence, commitment and impact to the Reading Phillies, to the local community, and to the baseball industry make her a most deserving winner of this award."
Though Forlini admitted she was slightly embarrassed by being singled out for an individual award when she works in what she considers the ultimate team atmosphere, her coworkers are thrilled for her and unstinting in their praise.
"She's such an essential part of our organization," said Reading GM Scott Hunsicker. "Everything she's ever done here she's taken to a whole new level."
Lisa Winston is a reporter for MLB.com.