Results tagged ‘ Garry Maddox ’

12/28/10 – This Day in Legend History – Mickey Morandini


In the midst of all the holiday hullabaloo, I forgot to update the diary on December 23rd. On that day in 1997, Phillies second baseman Mickey Morandini was traded to the Chicago Cubs for outfielder Doug Glanville. Another popular and important cog in the 1993 machine was shipped to Chicago’s North side. Luckily for Phillies fans, this resulted in the acquisition of another future favorite among the Phaithful.

Glanville was a graduate from the University of Pennsylvania. He was enamored with the city and it’s baseball team. As part of his thesis, Glanville wrote about the feasibility of new ballpark for the Phillies who still called Veterans Stadium home. While manning centerfield, his hard-work ethic, and clean and classy persona quickly drew comparisons to another famous Phillie centerfielder, Garry Maddox. In fact, Glanville won the first ever Garry Maddox Community Service Award for the Phillies in 2000. In that same year, both Morandini and Glanville’s paths passed as Mickey made a return to the Phillies for 91 games before being traded again to the Toronto Blue Jays. Glanville signed as a free agent with the Texas Rangers in 2003 and made a brief return to the Chicago Cubs, the team that originally drafted him in 1991. And like Morandini, Glanville made a brief return to the club in 2004 before retiring the next year.

Glanville is now a successful writer, baseball analyst, businessman, etc etc. You can read all about his accomplishments on his website. When I started this diary, I immediately thought of Doug. His excellent writing and love of the sport of baseball are infectious and I couldn’t think of a better person to share my blog with. I wrote him an email in early October. A couple days later, during Game 2 of the NLDS against the Cincinnati Reds in fact, I received an incredible response from him:

“Hey Bryan! Thanks for sending this along and of course it really resonates with me because I spend a lot of my time thinking of things my Dad told me, what he would say, what he would feel about being a grandfather if he had the chance. My kids are 2 and 1 years old and they are growing so quickly. Because I understand at such a visceral level, the connection and loss of a father, I try to think about what kind of relationship I want with my son and daugther. All I can say is keep searching and sharing because so many people really do understand what you are going through. That is why writing really was a gift to me. I found the one thing that made me feel like my father was sitting on the shoulder. Giving ideas, chiming in like he always used to do. I understand why he would just walk out of a room just to write a poem, why he needed to write something at a moment. It has been a bonus to see how many people have found that space in my writing. The compassion, the empathy, the humanity in the game.”

Pure class.

3/23/10 – The Call

When I called the Phantasy Camp Headquarters, I got their automated menu system. This was not your run-of-the-mill phone directory prompt. The voice on the other end was “The Voice”. I immediately beamed. I thought to myself, “this is the coolest damn thing I have ever heard in my life”. However, it also saddened me. Harry had passed away that last April before a game against the Nationals in Washington. I had seen the breaking news report on the MLB Network and quickly called my dad. I felt like I was informing him a family member had just passed. He clearly was upset by the news. A voice that was synonymous with generations of Phillies fans was silenced. This was also the voice that first told me about the wonders of this camp. The significance of this did not escape me.

I spoke to a wonderful woman named Joanne LeVeque who was the enrollment coordinator. She was excited at my enthusiasm to want to attend the camp. When I told her I lived in New York City, she immediately asked how I was coping with being surrounded by Yankees and Mets fans. It was a fun conversation and once again, I knew I had made the right decision.

She took all my information and emailed me a couple forms, including the application.  As soon as I started to peruse the application, I immediately became aware what this camp was all about. After asking your name, the second question was, “Nickname you would like to be called at Camp”. This was going to be great.

My nickname? Gary Matthews and I may be duking this out.

Other questions included preferred uniform number and position(s) you would like to play. (Note: the numbers I chose were “31″ for Garry Maddox and “47″ for the year my father was born. I later realized it was also Larry Andersen‘s number, the crowned ring leader of Phantasy Camp. How fitting). Before the legal agreements and final signature, the application had two mini-essay questions. First they asked you to tell them a little about yourself. The second, “Phulfill Your Phantasy: What is your ultimate phantasy for this experience?”. All of a sudden, I got pangs of anxiety. I didn’t want to botch this question up. I felt like Ralphie in “A Christmas Story”, writing his essay to Mrs. Shields justifying his desire for a Red Ryder B.B. Gun. I needed to come up with the best answer I could so they would accept my application. I did NOT want to get a C+ on this one. I pondered what to write in those eight blanks lines. I shook my head to give myself a mental wake-up. I was clearly thinking about this way too much. This was not going to make or break their decision on whether or not they should let me attend. I basically gave them a condensed, eight-line version of the introduction to this diary. That should do it.

Introduction

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2010

I don’t know exactly what age I was when I first learned that my favorite baseball team, the Philadelphia Phillies, held an annual “fantasy camp” at their Spring Training facility in Clearwater, FL. According to the “second most important male voice in life at the time”, Harry Kalas, attendees would spend several days playing baseball with other camp-goers and ex-Phillies players.  I looked to my dad to make sure I heard that correctly.  Harry might as well have said the entire Phillies team will come to my house and play nine innings in our backyard. It was that preposterous. Harry wouldn’t lie to me, right? Dad gave me a reassuring smile and told me it was indeed true.

My hopes were immediately dashed though when I found out that you had to be at least 30 years of age to attend. Once again, the powers that be were denying this kid the basic human right to have fun. Thirty?! That’s an eternity! (So goes the thought process for every boy and girl that age).

Years went by and my desire to fib about my age and attend Phantasy Camp had waned. My love of baseball turned to other interests like music and playing drums. My posters of Mike Schmidt and Pete Rose were being replaced with rock stars and Sports Illustrated swimsuit models. In addition to Schmidt, it also did not help that my favorite player, Garry Maddox, had retired. Compound that with the fact that my team went through a pretty long period of less-than-stellar play on the field, save for the statistical outlier that was 1993 (easily one the most fun-filled seasons following the Phillies… although did you have to lose 15-14 at my first ever World Series game? Come on. That was painful).

I moved to New York City in early 2001 and I followed the Phillies with even more fervor.  Baseball was slowly making a comeback in Philadelphia. There were a lot of reasons to get excited about this organization. That season saw them turn around with a winning record, led by new manager and Phillies legend, Larry Bowa. A new ballpark was on the way. Amazing homegrown talent was coming up like Jimmy RollinsRandy Wolf, and Pat Burrell. Catcher Mike Lieberthal was coming in to his own. Outfielder Bobby Abreu became a quiet superstar. Later, free agent Jim Thome graced Philadelphia with his presence. Chase Utley soon followed, along with a first baseman making a lot of noise down in the minor leagues named Ryan Howard.  And as any baseball fan knows, what has become of Philadelphia Phillies baseball in the last half of this decade has been nothing short of pure bliss for their fanbase. Right Harry?

My dad and I outside Citizens Bank Park, July 24, 2004.

In the last several years, my dad and I became even more fanatical about our team. Whenever it was on the phone or face-to-face, our conversations centered round the Phillies.  He and I had always been extremely close. The Phillies made us even closer.

On November 4, 2009, my father passed away.  Apart from the obvious shock, pain and heartache that surrounded me that day, what made it even worse was the fact that it was the same day as Game 6 of the World Series against the Yankees… a game (and Series) the Phillies would lose. I wrote an article for prosportsblogging.com detailing that day.

Once I was able to start focusing again on the things I loved to do, the idea of attending the Phillies Phantasy Camp went off like a light bulb. Why not? I had the time and resources now (I also finally met the age requirement. I would turn 35 during the camp in January 2011… same day as Carlos Ruiz… let’s add in “birthday present to myself” shall we?) I ran the thought by my wife. She didn’t even let me finish my sentence before she gave me a hundred emphatic “yeses”.  Not only would this be a wonderful, exciting, and therapeutic experience for me, but it would be the ultimate tribute to my father: A man, no matter how tired he was after a long day at work, would rush home to have a catch with his son in the backyard before the sun went down and to talk about baseball. A man who used sports as a way to comfort ourselves after my mother passed away when I was 14. A man who made his only child his number one priority.

I called the very next morning. After a 20-minute phone conversation with the enrollment coordinator, I knew I made the right decision.

And I knew I had to document this entire process…

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