Results tagged ‘ Fantasy Camp ’

1/17/11 – Final thoughts before Camp

The final email messages from Phillies Phantasy Camp are coming in. More Legend bios… Ricky Bottalico, Ricky Jordan, Juan Samuel, and Dave Hollins. According to his bio, Hollins was inducted to the Greater Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame in 2004. This piqued my interest, so I had to see who else from the world of baseball is in this particular Hall of Fame. The first name that popped out to  me was the one and only, Warren Spahn, arguably the greatest left-handed pitcher in history. Also included is the man with easily one of the best nicknames in baseball history, pitcher Sal “The Barber” Maglie. Not bad company Dave! There are some noted inductees with huge ties to the Phillies also on this list… Paul “The Pope” Owens, Danny Ozark, and Jim Konstanty.

In addition to the daily weather update (70′s!), the email started out with this gem:

“The official equipment truck has been unloaded at the Carpenter Complex and setup has begun. The fields are in pristine condition and waiting for you.”

Really, how can you not get a lump in your throat when you read that?

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I truly cannot believe it’s here. Ten months have flown by and Phantasy Camp has suddenly arrived. I really thought I would have demonstrated the patience and mental fortitude of a little kid, which of course, is practically non-existent.  But no, for once, I have acted like an adult. After Orientation, reality finally set in. I was in the home stretch. Now? Well, it still feels like a dream. I still can’t believe I’m packing my bags and preparing for this experience. Again, I don’t think this will truly hit me until I arrive at the hotel on Wednesday.

Before I leave, I want to thank all the people whom I have spoken to about Phantasy Camp… all the folks who either reached out to me after discovering my blog, or the ones whom I contacted. The amount of positivity and well-wishes for a great trip were, and still are, beyond anything I could have imagined. Everyone has fanned the flame. I don’t think my excitement level would be as high as it is without you sharing your experiences with me. I cannot wait to finally get on the diamond with you all.

My friends and family have been outstanding. Their anticipation may be as high as mine. I actually feel bad about rambling on and on about Camp as much as I do, but everyone keeps bringing it up! I sure hope you all aren’t bored talking about this, because you have months and months of me babbling like an idiot ahead of you. You have been warned.

I want to thank my perfect and loving wife. If it wasn’t for her total, undying support of this trip, I would not have this extraordinary sense of elation. She has always been my rock from the first day we met. What transpired in the past year was absolutely devastating, and her astounding mettle and constant pushing of me to move forward and live my life to the fullest has been incredibly awe-inspiring. If anyone is as trilled to be going to Florida as me, it is her. And for that, I will be in debt to her for the rest of my life.

And of course, I want to thank my father. He and I always had thoughts of participating in Phantasy Camp together, but that never came to fruition.

He was, and continues to be, my guardian angel.

He was, and continues to be, my hero.

This experience is for him.

*Note: I will not update the diary while I am down in Florida. As soon as I return on 1/23, I will get out my blog posts as quickly as possible.  Until then, you can snack on some peanuts and Cracker Jack and hum a little tune.


1/15/11 – High Hopes…

In addition to the now daily, “you are going to Phillies Phantasy Camp really soon” email from the ESF folks, I received something else yesterday that really got me in to the spirit… like I need anymore fuel to that particular fire.

A friend of mine from D.C. sent me a DVD released in 2003 called “High Hopes: The Anatomy of a Winner: The Story of the 1993 Philadelphia Phillies”. Enclosed was a note saying how he found this DVD while cleaning his apartment, and thought I would appreciate it and get me in the mood for Camp.  I must say, this was a mighty thoughtful gesture. You are the best, Steve.

I stopped what I was doing and popped the DVD in.  Almost immediately, I started beaming. A 90-minute documentary about my favorite team of all time, narrated by Larry Andersen and John Kruk? This was going to be fun. The only DVD I have relating to this team is the MLB-sanctioned postseason highlight film. It’s not bad, but you don’t get a great sense of what that team was all about. This film… THIS is what I want to see. Anyone who distinctly remembers that season will be instantly transported back to that time, and how much fun it was to follow those characters.

When that season started, I was a junior in high school. I remember watching the first game against the Houston Astros with my dad, marveling at Terry Mulholland’s complete game and newcomers Pete Incaviglia and Jim Eisenreich’s instant impact, knocking in a run each. I didn’t want to hinge the outcome of the entire season on one game, but there was definitely something very different about this team. They looked REALLY good. This movie did such a great job returning me to that particular night.

The rest of the film was perfect. It brought back so many memories. It gave me the chills hearing the radio and TV calls of Harry Kalas and Richie Ashburn… all the great highlights and stories I will never forget, and some that had completely slipped my mind…

- I totally forgot that poor Jim Eisenreich was called “Jeffrey Dahmer” because of his slight resemblance to the famous serial killer. You KNOW he has a good sense of humor to be able to put up with that.

- Game 6 of the NLCS against the Atlanta Braves. The Phillies bring in Stephen Gunzenhauser, the music director of the Delaware Symphony Orchestra, to conduct “Take Me Out To The Ballgame” during the 7thinning stretch. As he is leaning out of the booth, a fan steals his oversized baton mid-song. He was left there to continue in his nice tux and tails, sans baton. Classic.

But what really makes this DVD special is being able to watch all the in-depth interviews of the players who I will be meeting in five short days. These guys are good old-fashioned ballplayers that every person can easily relate to.

They love the game. They love the camaraderie. They love to have fun. That’s what that team was all about. That’s what baseball should be all about.

1/14/11 – “Helloooo Philadelphiaaaa!”

Every little kid does it. Out in the yard, the street, the ball park, etc… the same scenario usually pops up: bottom of the ninth, bases loaded, down by three runs, Game 7 of the World Series, 3-2 count. It’s amazing how many times I was in the World Series in my back yard with my Phillies against the New York Yankees.  I think by my count, the Phillies have now surpassed the Yanks’ 27 championships.

Now I’m an adult. I don’t have these little fantasies when I’m playing ball. However, there is one aspect of baseball nowadays that gets me thinking like a kid again. Being a musician, I’m fascinated with the choices players make in terms of the music they want to be played over the PA when they walk to the plate, warm up on the mound, or come in from the bullpen. Here’s a list of what the 2010 Phillies preferred.Some players get very in to it, working with the stadium’s PA crew like they are about to DJ a hot set.  At least once a day I find myself saying as I’m walking around with my iPod, “That would make a great song to walk up to the batter’s box to”. The next thing you know, I’m imagining myself making a dramatic stroll up to the plate being accompanied by some killer track and screaming fans at a sold out Citizens Bank Park. (I have lowered my standards a bit to the exact scenario. I’m totally fine with it being during the regular season. I’m not going to get greedy). All I know is, they would probably hate me. For our wedding, I constructed an Excel spreadsheet detailing every aspect of the songs to be played for the DJ. He said he had never had a client do that before in all his years. Yes, I would be an absolute pain.

As I am in complete Phantasy Camp mode right now, I figured I would finally compile what songs I would love to walk up to the batter’s box to in my alternate perfect baseball world. Of course these would probably change as the season goes if I’m not “feeling” the song any more.

Sorry guys, you didn’t make the cut.

Johnny Cash – “Folsom Prison Blues” and “Rusty Cage”

Instant swagger. If Cash can’t get you pumped, you have to get your heart checked out. “Rusty Cage” is fantastic… a cover of a Soundgarden song, whom I could have put any of theirs on this list. Johnny’s version has two parts essentially and either of those could be cranked up on the PA.

Oasis  – “Lyla”

This song was made to be blasted at sporting events. The steady pounding 2/4 time, the always-huge guitar from Noel Gallagher, the anathematic chorus of “Hey Lyla”… it’s perfect arena rock.

Doves – “Pounding”

Another fantastic 2/4 pounder, just as the title implies.

Chemical Brothers – “Setting Sun”

Oasis shows up again in this one with Noel lending his vocal talents to this homage to The Beatles’ “Tomorrow Never Knows”. This one immediately gets our head bobbing.

Verve – “Bittersweet Symphony”

This one is all about the drama. Between the looped strings and the nice, big drum part, this one just instantly makes you feel invincible. Right Richard?

Nirvana –  “Serve The Servants”

Turn. It. Up.

Ghostface Killah – “Daytona 500″

I could have picked anything from the Wu-Tang Clan, but I’m going with this gem from the first solo record from Wu member Ghostface Killah.

Depeche Mode – “I Feel You”

The first electro-pop group to fill outdoors stadiums rode the early ’90′s Grunge/guitar-only wave and came out blazing with this monster. That riff could just go on and on and on…

Thelonious Monk – “Epistrophy”

This is definitely a first inning song, easing your way in to the game. Easily one of my favorite jazz tunes. That straight-ahead boogie stride rhythm put in to the hands of a genius pianist is to die for.

Tina Turner – “Nutbush City Limits”

Do I really need to explain?

1/13/11 – Under a week to go!

The Phantasy Camp folks sure do know how to build excitement. I got another email yesterday giving the official “seven days until Camp” proclamation. This message included last minute stretching tips and such so we can “beat out that throw to first by Stocker”. In the last email they had a “Meet the Legends” section, highlighting two Legends who will be in camp. The first two were Larry Andersen and Scott Palmer. They gave a quick bio of each and what we can expect from them at Camp. Andersen’s of course needed no explanation. I think the Campers know exactly what we are in store for from Larry.

Yesterday they featured Greg Luzinski and John Kruk. At the end of Kruk’s description, it ended with, “A staple at Phillies Phantasy Camp, John Kruk will provide expert advice in batting and fielding but will show his true supremacy as a Kangaroo Court Judge each day”. Luckily, I have no problem making fun of myself, so I think I’m pretty prepared for any good ribbings these guys may give to me, but still. This is John Kruk. The man traded his uniform number, #28, to Mitch Williams for two cases of beer. Who does that?… OK, I could see myself doing that, but that’s besides the point. 

Here’s another picture from Photo Day back on June 3rd, 1989. Kruk was traded the day before from the San Diego Padres along with Randy Ready for Chris James. Nothing like showing up for your first day of work at your new office and having to parade yourself. I’d probably want two cases of beer too. Here you can see him behind Dickie Thon with the first of his four uniform numbers, #11.

This is why the Phillies Camp is one the most popular in all the Majors. I can’t imagine a better cast of characters to play baseball with, share stories, and joke around with. It is going to be something else.

1/11/11 – “Ten! Nine! Eight!… Eight!… Eight!…”

Today I received an email from the folks at Phantasy Camp, just another “in case you forgot, you are going to Phantasy Camp in eight days” reminder. One of the first things it mentions was the “Countdown Clock”. Now, this clock has been on the Camp website for quite awhile now, but I’m not sure if it’s a glitch with my computer or their system, but it has been like this the whole time:

What a tease! At Orientation in November, this clock was on display in the press room and was working properly, so obviously they want to make this wait even more excruciating for me.

The email also mentioned three clinics that offered to Campers the day of our arrival next Wednesday. There is a fielding clinic with Kevin Stocker and Mickey Morandini, a pitching clinic with Dickie Noles, and a hitting clinic with Milt Thompson. When Thompson was fired as hitting coach back in July, I was concerned that his appearance in Florida would be in jeopardy. Luckily, I was wrong.

Another Camper who came across my blog had asked me last week if I would be participating in Milt’s clinic. I told him I wouldn’t as I’m looking forward to taking it easy on Wednesday and not rush right on to the field. I added, “Also, not as a knock to Milt, but I don’t think an hour or two can correct a lifetime of hitting ineptitude”. OK, I’m not that bad, that was a joke, but I don’t want Thompson graciously patting me on the back and escorting me out of the cage. The only thing I’d like to be hitting after a day of travel is the tiki bar.

Finally, the email ends with the best news:

“The weather forecast in Clearwater for today calls for sunny skies with a high reaching into the high sixties (67°). The weather is projected to be in the 70′s during camp so get your short sleeves and sunscreen ready!”

This is fantastic as my area up here in New York City is looking to get socked again with snow. Weatherman Joe Rao of News 12 not only has predicted 10 to 18 inches, but has introduced me an amazing new word: “Bombogenesis”. Just to let everyone know, I call dibs on this word for a potential band name.

According to Rao, “A very dynamic weather situation awaits us during the overnight hours!  A relatively weak coastal storm system now centered near Cape Hatteras, NC will merge with a package of upper atmospheric energy moving in from the Midwest late tonight.   The result will be similar to injecting steroids into the storm; it will explode (what meteorologists refer to as “Bombogenesis”) and become very strong, very fast.  Thunder and lighting may occur as this process occurs . . .”

Man, I can smell that Florida air now…

1/10/11 – Other experiences…

When I first started my Phillies Phantasy Camp diary I was curious to see if anyone else in the web-o-sphere had done anything similar. It’s really slim pickings out there I tell you. I was kind of surprised that more people haven’t taken the time to share their time at Camp with the rest of the world… not only at Phillies Camp, but for all the other Major League teams.

I was contacted back in August by a former Camper who had stumbled upon my blog. He created his own blog, more for his friends and family, to keep them up to date on his trip halfway around the world. You see, he was from Australia. That’s a dedicated Phillies fan. Here is his blog from his experience back in 2007.

Public Affairs Director for the Phillies, Scott Palmer, has written a couple articles (here and here) detailing his experiences in Clearwater in the last couple years.

There’s Ballpark Bob who writes for the website fantasybaseballdugout.com. He provides a very quick synopsis of his trip, including a brief video.

We have this nice video/photo compilation of a Camper Jason Frankel’s experience in 2008:

I’m curious to know if there are any other blogs, diaries, articles or videos swirling around that I missed? I’d love to hear more about other people’s experiences at Phillies Phantasy Camp!

1/9/11 – This Day in Legend History… Warren Brusstar


On this day in 1974, pitcher Warren Brusstar was drafted by the Phillies. He only played nine seasons in the Majors but appeared in the postseason for five of them, four of which for the Phillies. Talk about getting the most bang for your buck. Unfortunately, my memories of Brusstar are virtually non-existant as he was purchased by the Chicago White Sox in August of 1982. At six years old, my knowledge of players were primarily based around my baseball cards, and all I knew about Warren Brusstar was that mustache, those eyebrows, that curly ‘fro, and menacing stare. I’m sorry, but Al “The Mad Hungarian” Hrabosky had nothing on Brusstar in the baseball card wars.

——————–

In the morning after the reprehensible shooting incident in Tucson, Arizona of U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords, news came that the nine-year old girl that was tragically killed was the granddaughter of former Phillies manager and World Series Champion, Dallas Green. My thoughts go out to Green and his family, as well as everyone else who has been effected by this heinous act of violence. 

1/5/11 – Phantasy Camp as an “investment”

It is now exactly two weeks until Phillies Phantasy Camp. As my wife has jokingly said, “you really need to start getting more excited about this”.

Throughout the course of this diary (from this site, my personal website or Crossing Broad), I have received many wonderful comments and emails from folks who have participated before or are also joining me down in Florida. All of whom have been nothing but positive and reassuring about the incredible time I will have. The other day, I received a comment on my personal site from a man named Gene. Gene, as it turns out, was the man I first met in the elevator the night of the Orientation. His wife, Marie, who found my website, had told him about my diary and was thrilled to read all about my personal experience. 

Last night, Marie sent me an email that blew me away and made me truly understand why I started this diary in the first place. She told me how she gave the Camp to her husband for a Father’s Day gift, and since then he’s had an extra bounce to his step and has claimed it has added years to his life… and he hasn’t even stepped on to the field. She absolutely enjoys watching how excited her husband is, just like my wife. Then she added, “I thought it was just a gift, but it has become an investment”. That right there completely summed it up for me. This Camp experience goes beyond just playing baseball with some ex-Phillies. As corny as it may sound, this is all about making your dreams come true. It makes me so happy to hear a story like this and to know what other people are feeling. I know I’ll be hearing this tale repeated over and over in two weeks. It will never get old.

Another interesting and flattering tidbit that Marie shared with me was that she printed out my entire blog. It now sits in a three-ring binder on the couple’s night stand. Again, this is exactly why I wanted to do this blog. I wanted people to get excited about this Camp and to understand why this means so much to me. I couldn’t be more thrilled. Hopefully, my story will reach many people’s night stands…

1/3/11 – …and speaking of a Happy New Year…

On the homepage of the MLBlogs website today, my blog was “featured” as part of their New Year celebration. Number 9 Number 9 Number 9….

Congrats to two other Phillies MLBlogs for making the feature, Phillies Phollowers and The Phanatic Addict. Thanks MLB!

1/1/11 – Happy New Year


Last night, my wife and I held our annual New Year’s party. As usual, we were surrounded by our close friends, having the time of our lives. Many times during the night, conversation would turn to the upcoming Phillies Phantasy Camp. As many times as I’ve rambled on and on about the camp, the reality of it really hit me last night. The calendar has finally turned to January. In two and a half weeks, I will be having the absolute time of my life in Florida. After a year of sadness and reflection on my father’s passing, I think it’s very fitting that this new year will be kicked off with Phantasy Camp. I couldn’t think of a better way to turn the page and make 2011 the rebound year to end all rebound years. 

This camp is much more than a silly baseball fan getting his kicks for the love of the sport. This camp is all about a man coming to peace with the loss of his father… his hero. This camp will make me believe anything is possible, that I can do anything, and that I have the rest of my life ahead of me. As the battle cry goes, “there’s always next year”. Well, next year is here.

I couldn’t be anymore excited. I don’t like to hinge my life on one day, but last night really gave me a well-needed positive shot into my system. 

It could have also been the champagne.

I wish everyone the happiest and healthiest of new years!

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