The Only Gloves We’ll Need In Florida…

…are batting gloves and mitts.

This is what the weather is like on this fine Sunday morning in New York City.

And this is what Clearwater is looking like right now.

So far, the weather forecast is looking fantastic in Florida… highs in the 70’s, little or no rain. If this continues, this will be much more pleasant than last year. Even though we only had one day with rain, it was definitely on the chilly side. Knock on wood, AKA my big noggin, this will be perfect.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Start Your Engines.

From the Facebook page for the Clearwater Threshers:

That would be the ticket office for Bright House Field on this fine January morning. Yes… Spring Training tickets have gone on sale.

We’ll break that field in for you guys!

SPPCD: 2011 Top 100 MLB.com Blog!

I’m num-ber 45! I’m num-ber 45!

MLB.com Blogs Central revealed their top 100 blogs for the year, and Sarge’s Phillies Phantasy Camp Diary landed on the list at number 45. Not too shabby for a blog that was centered around an experience that was only about 8 days long (orientation, camp, and two reunions). It’s been extremely fun maintaining the diary through the rest of the year, and I’m REALLY excited to do it again. One week to go!

I want to thank everyone for stopping by, reading a post or two, and leaving such wonderful comments in the last year. Right around this time last year, I was embroiled in a little MLBlogs controversy as the blog was mistakenly ranked number one for the month of January. It was still in the upper echelon which I was extremely proud of. I hope I can return there during these cold, winter months as we all watch Prime 9/Greatest Games marathons on MLB Network and get extremely eager for the beginning of Spring Training.

I also want to congratulate all the bloggers who made the list, including fellow Phans Phillies Phollowers, The Phanatic Addict, Rants, Raves, and Random Thoughts, Phillies Red Pinstripes, Larry Shenk’s Phillies Insider, and the best (and number one) beat writer, Todd Zolecki and his Zo Zone.

See you in Clearwater!

An Eagle Flys To Phantasy Camp

If this blog was your destination for up-to-the-second news, well, I would be out of “business”. I’m about three weeks late to this item, but I’m still going to mention it. Current 94 WIP radio personality and former Philadelphia Eagle, Ike Reese, will be joining everyone in Clearwater as a player at this year’s Phantasy Camp.

It’s humbling enough I’m surrounded by former baseball all-stars and World Series winners, but now an NFL All-Pro and NFC Champion.

I’ll be at the tiki bar.

——————–

Below is the official list of Phillies Legends that will be in attendance at Phantasy Camp this year. It’s exactly the same as last year, with the exception of Mitch Williams.

  • John Kruk
  • Mike Lieberthal
  • Greg Luzinski
  • Bob Boone
  • Milt Thompson
  • Larry Anderson
  • Dickie Noles
  • Mickey Morandini
  • Marty Bystrom
  • Von Hayes
  • Dave Hollins
  • Kevin Stocker
  • Scott Eyre
  • Tyler Green
  • Tommy Greene
  • Jim Eisenreich
  • Juan Samuel
  • Ricky Jordan
  • Warren Brusstar
  • Ricky Bottalico
  • Terry Harmon

Two Week Countdown

We are officially at the two-week mark! Only 14 days to go until I return to Clearwater for my second and consecutive Phillies Phantasy Camp.

Between last weekend’s incredible freezing over of the field at Citizens Bank Park and today’s 14-degree wind chill in New York City, nothing sounds better than playing a few baseball games in sunny Florida, rather than “the frozen tundra of Central Park’s North Meadow #5…”

Long Winter's Nap, Central Park, NYC

I’m even more excited to document my trip once again. This time the entries will not be so lengthy as I pretty much know what to expect. This time I’m going to focus more on the images and speaking to other Campers, especially the rookies, and getting their take on the whole experience. As excited as I am for myself, I’m even more thrilled for the people going for the very first time. Nothing will ever beat it…

Winter Schminter

Photo by Adam Kimelman

The above photo is quickly making the rounds in the Philly sports blogosphere today.

Yep, that’s Roy Halladay. In shorts. A week before Christmas.

Where have I seen this before?

Oh right… last January. Incredible.

Hope to see you next month big man.

Phillies Phantasy Camp 2011 - Roy Halladay

Another Bryan Hits Fantasy Camp

We are officially at the two-month mark. Luckily, the hustle and bustle of the upcoming holiday season will be a nice distraction from the excitement of my return trip to Clearwater in January. Some folks, however, have been lucky enough to finish off their fantasy camp experience already.

I am not a native to New York City, but for the last 10 years, I have been fortunate to call it home. My wife and I cannot imagine living anywhere else. Of course, this also means I’ve been living amongst the “enemy”. However, I have a much more zen approach to the Philadelphia/New York sports rivalry. It’s such an interesting aspect to my baseball fandom, that I’ve felt to document this relationship in another blog of mine.

(courtesy of yankeeanalysts.com)

In my perusing of off-season news from the local nines in the Bronx and Queens, I came across a series on yankees.com from MLB.com writer, Bryan Hoch.  Bryan followed diehard Yankees fans down to Tampa for the first of two fantasy camps held by the club.

You can read his great daily recaps below… but I think my fellow Phillies fans would rather hear from this particular Bryan *points to self*

Day One

Day Two

Day Three

Day Four

Last Day

Phantasy Camp Orientation – Year 2

2012 Phillies Phantasy Camp Orientation

When one of the ESF employees welcomed me back to Phantasy Camp last night, I said to her, “I knew I was going to sign up again at last year’s orientation“.

This go round, I knew what to expect. Still, the excitement was not diminished. Unlike last year’s long, solitary train adventure to the Bank, I had the good fortune of getting a car ride down with another second and consecutive year Camper, Sam. Talk of expectations, rookie mistakes, and the game plan for ’12 filled the time as we made our way down the Jersey Turnpike.

2012 Phillies Phantasy Camp Orientation - Citizens Bank Park

2012 Phillies Phantasy Camp Orientation

Once again, it was a cold and wet night. But this time, the walk to front door was not as heart-pounding. I felt like a senior in high school, heading to class on that first day. I’ve done this before. No problem. Look at the newbies. They don’t know where to go. They’ll learn.

2012 Phillies Phantasy Camp Orientation - Citizens Bank Park

We took the elevator down to the media room. Deja vu all over again. This time, I recognized faces… the good folks from ESF, Campers from last year… lots of “welcome back!” and “hey, you cut your hair!” Yep, Joe Cool runnin’ school.

2012 Phillies Phantasy Camp Orientation

Sign in, table to table, dot the I’s, cross the T’s…

Now last year, rookies received those great duffle bags with our number on the side. For us second year Campers, we got a nice cold-weather pullover, again with our number on the sleeve. However, my new garment had my old #31. Of course, I had to be a pain and get a new number for this year. Yep, my luggage tags would have to changed (I’ll buy you a beer at a game at the Stadium pal. Sorry about that.)

2012 Phillies Phantasy Camp Orientation

After we look over some more paperwork and grab some sandwiches and cookies… and more cookies… ok, one more… we get our guided walk towards the clubhouse. Past the umpire lockers, past the Phantic storage, batting tunnels, retired jerseys, photos of recent Phillies triumphs…

…and one Bart Simpson-esque temptation before we enter the clubhouse.

2012 Phillies Phantasy Camp Orientation

The sight of that clubhouse still gives me chills. Yes, the lockers are emptied out until next Spring, but still, what a moment. Lots of champagne and Bud Light had been sprayed in this room.

Ah, but right before we crossed over, we were met with a sight that made us all shudder. It was like seeing the ship’s log of the Titanic on April 13, 1912. “Clear lanes, smooth sailing”.

Game 5, 2011 NLDS lineup card for the Phillies

Yes, the lineup card for Game 5 of this last season’s NLDS was still up.

Let’s move on.

There was no need for a uniform sizing this time, so we got to spend a little more time taking photos of the lockers. We gazed at the prominently displayed Phantasy Camp awards given out every year as well. You heard it here first: Sam Daley will be the 2012 Batting Champion. I will win the Mario Mendoza Award.

2012 Phillies Phantasy Camp Orientation - Cap Sizer

It was very nice of the Phillies to bring in the industrial-sized cap-shaping machine to fit my noggin. At this point, I will also restrain myself from making any Placido Polanco jokes.

Like last year, Scott Palmer was there to greet the Campers. This time, he had two friends with him: Larry Andersen and Gary Matthews. So, I did what had to be done.

2012 Phillies Phantasy Camp Orientation - Sarge and Sarge

Sarge and Sarge.

About half the time we were in the clubhouse, I found myself turning around at the sound of “Hey Sarge!”, over and over. Joe Cool ain’t that cool.

All things must come to an end, so we slowwwly made our way back to the exit. But before we left the clubhouse, I did get to snap a photo of the team mailbox. I made a mention of it last year, but never took a picture of it.

2012 Phillies Phantasy Camp Orientation - Mailroom

I won’t tell you what I saw, but I will say, “Chooch… I would have never guessed that about you.”

I ran into some more returning Campers as we made our way back. And then it really hit me. Yes, I am going back for the once-in-a-lifetime experience for any die-hard baseball and Phillies fan, but more so this time, I’m looking really forward to the camaraderie. I think this is what truly brings people back, year after year. And that’s what makes this Camp so incredibly special.

The countdown is officially on!

(ooh, one more cookie)

“An Endless Game Of Repeated Summers”

Last month I posted a video about one of the great father-son duos at Phantasy Camp, Rocky and Chris Wright.

Several days ago, Chris contacted me and sent along a couple of his own videos. He was very gracious to let me share them on this website.

The first was a segment from “Behind The Pinstripes” back in April, hosted by Scott Palmer, public affairs director for the Phillies, and one of the many Phantasy Camp gurus. The show did a piece on the Wright’s Camp experience together in Clearwater last January.

The other was a very nice photo compilation of both he and his father (complete with a soundtrack supplied by a band who is fronted by one of my favorite personalities in rock).

Needless to say, Chris’s videos and his wonderful messages were quite timely…

This week marks the second anniversary of my dad’s passing (as well as the 21st for my mother).

“…for baseball is continuous, like nothing else among American things, an endless game of repeated summers, joining the long generations of all fathers and all sons.”

Donald Hall “Fathers Playing Catch With Sons”

New Phillies Phantasy Camp Video: “A Winning Tradition at Phillies Phantasy Camp”

There were a couple father-son combos at Phantasy Camp last January. This video highlights one of them.

All of the people that get to attend Phantasy Camp are truly very lucky individuals. These particular guys had the best luck of all.

Playing baseball, or even just having a simple catch with someone, is pure joy. But doing that with your father? Indescribable.

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