Results tagged ‘ 2012 ’
Mike Lieberthal… former Phillies All-Star catcher, fellow sushi fanatic, and more importantly, coach of my Phantasy Camp team for the past two years, has just been selected for the prestigious Phillies Wall of Fame. Lieby will be inducted in a ceremony before the Phillies game against the St. Louis Cardinals on August 10th. He will be the sixth Phantasy Camp Legend to adorn the Wall, in addition to Greg Luzinski, Bob Boone, Juan Samuel, Darren Daulton, and John Kruk. Congrats skip!
There were many differences in my experience of yesterday’s Phillies home opener compared to last year’s. Instead of a three-train trek, I was once again charioted down to Citizens Bank Park by my fellow Phantasy Camper/roommate Sam. A quick PATH ride to his home in Jersey City truly beats wading through the throngs of humanity at Penn Station. Plus, I got to actually spend the time having a nice conversation, instead of draining my iPhone battery playing various (fill in the blank) With Friends games.
The weather was about 30 degrees warmer this year, but the early Spring wind returned, transforming the Cit into Candlestick Park East. Sitting on the right-field side, up in the 200 level put us directly in crossfire of the whipping breeze. But the sun was just warm enough to make us forget about our neighbor’s wayward hot dog wrapper slapping us in the face.
The one other difference? The Phillies lost this year.
But hey, lil’ Freddy Galvis got his first major league hit! Really, the only highlight of the entire game.
It was still the home opener. It was a beautiful Spring day. Baseball has returned. Phillies loss? Who cares?
Discussions with Sam and my good friend Tom, who was my game-mate for the day, seemed to focus a lot on our memories of seeing the Phillies at the Vet during our younger years… our very first games, the lean years in the late 80′s and early 90′s, the other-worldly ’93 season, and everything in-between. I don’t know if it was the relative ugliness of this game’s performance, the looming cloud over this team with age and injuries, and the very loud and consistent boo’ing (even after “God Bless America”!), but this sense of nostalgia (even if it was a tad negative) really warmed my heart. I thought of my dad a lot this day. Nothing excited me more as a child than getting in our ’77 Plymouth station wagon, making the 20-30 drive north to the larger-than-life Veterans Stadium. Armed with a cooler stocked with a full lunch supplied by my mom, I would take whatever free promotional gift was given out that Sunday, take our seats and gaze out at that bright green field that seemed about as big as the Atlantic Ocean. I never remembered who won. I didn’t care. I had the best time.
After Chooch’s last at bat, we made our to the Diamond Club for a quick Phantasy Camp reunion. Our attention was drawn to the incredible painting called the “Dream Scene” by Jamie Cooper that adorns the wall above the stairs leading down to the Club.
Everyone’s gaze was stuck on this incredible image.
We just stared and smiled at all the memories. It’s a wonderful selection of all the most important Phillies players and personalities. Easily, the best little tribute in the whole painting came in the form of the small vase with the single rose, standing on the table in front of Dallas Green… He may not be painted in to the scene, but he’s still there.
Tom and I made our way down to the Club and went outside to check out the view of the grounds crew taking care of the field. I’m 36 years old, but still feel like a little kid, completely surrounded by the echos of a professional baseball game.
I took him over to the other end of the Club to show him the window that looks down on the Phillies batting cages. We had just missed Placido Polanco taking some post-game swings. The sea of baseballs strewn all over the cage proved work definitely still needs to be done to get this offense kicked in to gear.
Phantasy Camp stalwarts Larry Andersen and Scott Palmer made an appearance to greet us Campers. After that game, I’m sure L.A. could have used a drink.
Our reunion was brief, but was still able to speak with fellow Campers and discuss our desire to return once again. But what made my afternoon was being approached by a woman named Sumi, the wife of Craig Gerhart. Campers from this past January (and readers of my diary) know Craig as easily THE happiest man in the world. His infectious child-like, positive attitude and never-ending smile was absolutely incredible. Sumi had come over to tell me how much she loved this blog and how happy Craig was to be mentioned. She told me he signed up for next year right before the game. Not at all shocking. Craig is exactly what Phantasy Camp is and should be all about: Being a kid.
We made our way back to our respective cars, taking in the beautiful weather. We stopped to snap some pictures of another one of our childhood baseball icons.
We passed the various statues that adorned the ramps at the old Vet. They acted as official greeters to our own Roman Coliseum… when we were kids and just being at a baseball game was everything.
When we didn’t care who won or lost.
They have arrived. I’m extremely excited. Just like last year’s home opener, I will be sitting with fellow Phantasy Campers and enjoying an after-game reception in the Diamond Club at Citizens Bank Park. This will be the first of two reunions for us Campers. The next will be in late August where once again, I will be introduced on the field before the game (in addition to a little batting practice… which may not happen since I may pass out from pure excitement… or embarrassment).
Just like this year’s Phantasy Camp, I’m hoping there will be much better weather. Based on what the Northeast is experiencing right now, it should be glorious.
MLB.com’s Blog Central released their January 2012 leaders, and the diary cracked the top 30 at #29.
That’s right, I’m rocking The Krukker’s number this month!
So in honor of one of the best Legends to take the field at Phantasy Camp, please enjoy this little John Kruk medley…
I have been receiving some very complimentary words about my photographs. If you would like to see all my images from Phantasy Camp, please visit my Flickr collection here.
I want to thank everyone who has stopped by to read this blog, and has taken the time to leave a comment or send an email. It truly means the world to me.
Now let’s resume counting down to when the REAL players hit the field!
The 2012 Phillies Phantasy Camp is unfortunately over. However, my body will vehemently disagree with that statement.
Just like last year, this experience was the ultimate dream for any baseball nut, specifically us Phillies Phans. The weather was PERFECT. My team rebounded from last year’s disappointing finish to end the Camp on an extremely high note. And in addition to former Philadelphia Eagle Ike Reese’s appearance as a fellow player, there were some other fantastic cameos… Dick Allen, Darren Daulton, Vance Worley, Jim Thome… and I’m sure I missed a few others.
So please keep checking back during the week as I post my daily recaps filled with plenty of stories, lots of photographs, and detailed batting stats.
(Can someone actually have a negative batting average? I may need to apply theoretical mathematics to compute that.)
Last year on this date, I gave my last words before heading down to Phillies Phantasy Camp for the very first time. Please, indulge me as I do it again.
The Phantasy Camp experience for me last January was more than just a chance for me to look silly in a real MLB uniform and play baseball with former Phillies players. It was a form of therapy. It was a tribute. And it was exactly what the doctor ordered.
Tomorrow, I’m traveling to Florida as a seasoned vet. This time, I pretty much know what to expect. And I could not be happier about it.
Unfortunately, I may not get that same exact sense of awe that washed over me on that morning when I first saw that Phillies jersey with “Sargent 31″, but others will. I may not achieve that same high playing on the pristine grounds of Bright House Field, but others will. I will not get starstruck hanging out with players whom I watched on the TV and listened to on the radio growing up, but others will… and I am really excited for those folks!
I’ve had a lot of people who are going to camp for the first time, write me with every question conceivable over the last several months. They all have that same child-like anticipation that I had last year. And like a parent with his children on Christmas morning, I think I was more thrilled to talk about the Camp than they were. Just like my dad who always put himself second, I will be just as enthusiastic for the newcomers (and my returning friends) as I will for myself.
This is a truly special experience. That is what it’s all about.
Now, take us out Killer!
*Like last year, I will not be ‘live blogging’ from Camp, but I will be putting up daily recaps starting next Monday 1/23. The urge may come over me to send out a Tweet here and there, so if you happen to do that sort of thing, why don’t you follow me @BTSargent?*
…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.