Emma Robertson is the rarest of people: A baseball fan who looks forward to a rain delay.

Emma Robertson designed the tarp that covers Fenway Park when there’s a rain delay for Boston Red Sox games. Originally from South China, the L.L. Bean employee and Erskine Academy graduate currently lives in Portland. Andy Molloy/Kennebec Journal

Of course, if rain showers meant your handiwork got to be on display for thousands to see, you’d root for a storm, too.

Robertson, a 24-year-old South China native and creative designer at L.L. Bean, designed the tarp that the Red Sox use and that bears the company’s logo. The large sheet features L.L. Bean’s signature boot on the right-hand side, with the company’s name, #BeanOutsider slogan and another phrase, “Keeping Your Sox Dry,” on the left.

“I never thought that I would be happy to see a rain delay for a Red Sox game, ever,” said Robertson, a graduate of Erskine Academy in South China and Quinnipiac University who now lives in Portland. “But it’s pretty funny. Whenever it’s rolled out on TV, my dad will record the TV for me and send me a video of it.”

For Robertson, though, seeing her work put to use is only part of the thrill. She’s a devoted Boston Red Sox fan – one who has rooted for the team since before she was 4 years old and who counts the trade of Nomar Garciaparra as her first heartbreak – and she said the most rewarding part of the project has been seeing her design become part of the tapestry of Fenway Park, allowing her to contribute to the appearance of the team’s beloved home.

“It’s an unreal feeling,” she said. “To me, Fenway is like this museum of baseball history. And having my work be a part of that history in some way, if I were an artist, this would be like having my work on display at the Met. It’s just an amazing feeling, because I know how special a place Fenway is. To be able to contribute something, even if it’s a really, really small thing for other people, for me it just means the world.”

Robertson began doing design work during a summer job at Colby College, and was hooked by the opportunity to explore her creativity on a constant basis. She followed that up with a post-college internship at L.L. Bean, and was bumped up to full-time in 2020.

Emma Robertson stands outside at her parents’ home in South China. The L.L. Bean employee and Erskine Academy graduate designed the tarp that covers Fenway Park when there’s a rain delay for Boston Red Sox games. Andy Molloy/Kennebec Journal

While still an intern, though, Robertson was approached with the offer to design the tarp.

“(My boss said) ‘Is this something you would want to take on? It’s the rain tarp for Fenway.’ I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, are you kidding?'” Robertson said. “‘I don’t care if I have five projects due tomorrow. I’ll make time for this.'”

The assignment was the perfect marriage of subject matter. While growing up, Robertson camped often with her family, and a regular part of that outdoor experience was the sound of the Red Sox broadcast on the radio at night.

“While I was falling asleep, I could hear through the tent walls the sound of Joe Castiglione’s voice coming through the battery-powered radio,” she said. “I have a lot of these childhood memories that mean a lot to me, and I hold onto those.”

So when she got the assignment in September 2019, Robertson wanted to get it right. For two months, she brainstormed and workshopped different ideas, and often brought her work home with her.

“It was always on my mind,” she said. “It was a different type of project for me, and it meant a lot to me. I knew that I wanted to do it justice.”

Robertson looked at different designs for inspiration, but ended up making her own from scratch. She knew she wanted a design that looked good, but also encapsulated her company.

A tarp covers the infield at Fenway Park prior to the start of an April 25 game between the Red Sox and the Mariners. Photo provided by the Boston Red Sox

“I had some designs that didn’t have the Bean boot, and some that did,” she said. “The thing that I think is successful about the design that we ended up using is … (that) the Bean boot is obviously the most recognizable symbol of our company. It’s what we’re known for, everybody knows the Bean boot. I thought that putting that really large on the tarp would immediately stick with people.”

Emma Robertson checks out Fenway Park in Boston during a rain delay at a recent Red Sox game. Robertson, a Mainer originally from South China, designed the tarp used during rain delays. Photo courtesy of L.L. Bean

Robertson knew what the design would look like, but she had a chance to see it for the first time on a damp May day last year. While visiting the park for a video that was eventually posted by L.L. Bean and the Red Sox, Robertson came out of the tunnel and down the steps toward home plate, and saw the tarp with her design laid out on the field.

Immediately, she began to tear up.

“It was just amazing. I kind of think about Fenway almost like an old friend, and it was like Fenway was like ‘Here, look at this thing you did,'” Robertson said. “It really did feel special. So many people enjoy Fenway Park, and they have this special connection with Fenway. I feel like, in that moment, I had my own really personal connection with the park. It was a really powerful moment for me.”

Robertson doesn’t know how long the team will use her design. But she’ll always be able to know she contributed something to her favorite team. And it’s a good bet she won’t forget that feeling any time soon.

“It’s definitely satisfying to have that project that’s so close to my heart,” she said. “There were so many decisions I could have made growing up to go into a different field or do something else, or work somewhere else. … All of the steps I’ve taken to get here, they’re all worth it now, because I was able to work on a project like this that just meant the world to me.”


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