I’m proud to say I’ve made a return to the MLB Blogs leaders, landing at #49 for the month of June.
Thank you all for your continued readership!
There will be a lot of new pictures and video in late August after the 2011 Phantasy Camp reunion at Citizens Bank Park. And of course, another return to Clearwater in January 2012…
So don’t go turn that dial!
Waiting is the hardest part.
Just like last year at this time, thoughts of the 2012 Phantasy Camp this coming January are constantly hitting me. I feel like Chris Volstad facing Ryan Howard. The reality of the situation is running me over like a freight train… a freight train full of sunshine in the middle of winter, endless buckets of sunflower seeds and Double Bubble, and some of the best damn memories any baseball fan can remember.
Luckily, my 2011 Camp experience is technically not over. Come August, I will have one more huge fantasy come true right before the Phillies take on the Marlins at Citizens Bank Park. But I’ll save that until later…
Until then, it’s watching the Phillies lead the pack in the Majors, guiding my softball team (hopefully) to another championship game appearance, and hitting the gym on a regular basis. Yes, hell has indeed frozen over. More trips to the batting cages are definitely on the docket as well. I am NOT embarrassing myself in front of Milt Thompson again.
As it is that time of year when folks are filling out their applications or still trying to decide if that trip to Clearwater is worth it, I thought I would revisit an interview I gave for the Phillies Talk podcast back in February. If you didn’t get a chance to listen, you can click below, or visit the Fightin Phillies website here.
This weekend, Bright House Field, home of the Clearwater Threshers, Phillies Spring Training games, and MOST importantly, site of Major League Baseball’s best Phantasy Camp, will be hosting the 50th annual Florida State League (FSL) All-Star Game.
In addition to all the usual activities that surround an All-Star weekend, one piece of entertainment will be supplied by none other than Gar Ryness a.k.a. Batting Stance Guy.
If you aren’t familiar with him yet, well, that’s inexcusable.
Here is his first compilation video of past and present Phillies players, done in late 2008. Check out that Garry Maddox!
His YouTube channel is the perfect time waster.
Not in front of a computer or smartphone? Waste it the old-fashioned way… read the book! Or if you are in Clearwater, go see him, and future baseball stars in action.
Today I received an email from a wonderful guy who I met at Phantasy Camp last January. Him and his brother, who were also first-time campers, played on the championship-winning Red Barons team, coached by Legends Juan Samuel and Ricky Jordan.
“Outta’ Here”, released in Philadelphia on the 4th of July 2010, is the debut recording by the KAV trio, featuring Anthony Viscounte on vibraphone and marimba, Mark Amentt on bass, Sean J. Kennedy on drumset and percussion, with guest artist Paul Vasquez on guitar. This collective effort pays tribute to former Philadelphia Phillies announcer Harry Kalas. The seven compositions on this disc span a variety of genres and depict a special aspect of the Philadelphia Phillies, Kalas, and the special 2008 World Series Championship run. “Clearwater Morning” The Musicians: Anthony Viscoutne, vibraphone and marimba Recorded live Jauary 10, 2010 at Kennedy Percussion Studio in Ambler PA Available at iTunes, Amazon, CDBaby, etc…
The unofficial start of spring occurs as pitchers and catchers report to Clearwater, Florida for the start of Spring Training. Good weather and good times are on the horizon as baseball’s return is just around the corner. Whether it is an early morning breakfast at Lenny’s Diner or a grouper sandwich at the ballpark, Phillies phans come in waves to the Carpenter Complex to get their first glimpse at the new team. Based on the traditional “Gaelic Beannacht”, “Clearwater Morning” depicts the peace and happiness of what is to come: family and friends, hot dogs and burgers on the grill, summers at the shore, and baseball at the ballpark. As a new season gets set to begin, we all have hope and optimism about what is to come in the future.
Mark Amentt, bass
Sean J. Kennedy, drumset and percussion
Paul Vasquez, guitar
Guitar and percussion overdubs recorded at DMAS Digitial Mission Studio in Madison, NJ January 25, 2010
“Outta’ Here”, released in Philadelphia on the 4th of July 2010, is the debut recording by the KAV trio, featuring Anthony Viscounte on vibraphone and marimba, Mark Amentt on bass, Sean J. Kennedy on drumset and percussion, with guest artist Paul Vasquez on guitar. This collective effort pays tribute to former Philadelphia Phillies announcer Harry Kalas. The seven compositions on this disc span a variety of genres and depict a special aspect of the Philadelphia Phillies, Kalas, and the special 2008 World Series Championship run.
Anthony Viscoutne, vibraphone and marimba
Recorded live Jauary 10, 2010 at Kennedy Percussion Studio in Ambler PA
Available at iTunes, Amazon, CDBaby, etc…
Three states. Four trains. Just over four hours.
It took awhile, but we made it to Citizens Bank Park on Friday afternoon for the Phillies’ first game of the 2011 season against the Houston Astros. And, as an extra, added bonus, we would be sitting with fellow Campers and having a reunion/after-party at the park’s Diamond Club.
Unfortunately, because of the Eagles-like weather, it seemed a lot of folks made some last minute cancellations, based on the number of empty seats around us.
One person that did fill his seat in our section was Phillies great, Larry Christenson. What struck me about this was that at Game 6 of the NLCS last season, Christenson again, sat only a couple rows in front of us, in a completely different part of the ballpark. One more time Larry and I’m going to start think you are stalking me.
(On a side note, Larry was the starting pitcher of my first ever Phillies game at Veterans Stadium in 1982. I have no idea if they won or lost… it doesn’t matter.)
I had every intention of taking a lot of pictures to document the day. After snapping a few of the opening ceremonies, I decided to pack the camera away. The weather was brutal. My hands were best suited inside the pockets of my down jacket. They did make an appearance to clap for each of Roy Halladay’s six strikeouts.
The weather didn’t improve, ex-Phillie Brett Myers was out-pitching Halladay, the Phillies’ bats continued right where they left off at the end of ’10, and by the seventh inning, they were losing 4-0. The in the Diamond Club after the game couldn’t come soon enough.
The golden orb in the sky, struggling to make an appearance, finally broke through the cloud in the ninth inning. Then, this happened:
Sam, a friend who I met at Camp, sitting next to me, took this video. After his fantastic video of DeSean Jackson’s miracle punt return last December, Sam knows when to film that Decisive Moment.
Thank you John Mayberry Jr. We can run to the warmth of the Diamond Club now. I can finally have a cold beer and bask in the glow of the Phillies first win of the season.
Three of my former Driller teammates, Nick, Lee, and Connie, were in attendance. We shared laughs. We reminisced. And in only three months, our hits went farther and our plays more dramatic. I can’t imagine what they will be like by next January.
Later, ex-Phillie and Phantasy Camp Legend Tommy Greene made an appearance at the Diamond Club. Greene was the first Legend I spotted when I arrived at the hotel back in January. Sitting poolside, I caught sight Tommy ordering a round of beers from across the tiki bar… so yes, this was just like Camp all over again.
During the reunion, I had the pleasure of finally meeting the only female player at the Camp, Martha Eyerly. The Drillers never had the opportunity to play against her team, so this was the first time I got to speak to Martha. She mentioned how she also wanted to keep a diary/blog of her time down in Clearwater. I, for one, would love to read a 2012 Martha Eyerly Phillies Phantasy Camp Diary, especially if it involves her throwing out Mickey Morandini at first base during the Legends game again.
We decided to make our exit and Sam generously gave my wife and I a ride back as far as Jersey City. We spent the car ride catching up and discussing our possible return to Phantasy Camp for 2012.
Based just on the relationships made in that short time, you can probably count me in.
As always, my dad was on my mind this day. The one and only time he and I attended a game at Citizens Bank Park was back during the park’s inaugural season of 2004. It was in July, but the weather was unseasonably cool and overcast. We sat in the nosebleeds, directly above where we were sitting today. The walk up to our seats was eerily familiar. I was convinced it wasn’t just the weather that created a certain coldness and dreamlike loneliness for me. There was definitely something off.
But just like that game in 2004, the sun eventually came out for us. And the Phillies won.
And all was right with the world again.