Results tagged ‘ Larry Andersen ’

9/27/10 – Good Evening, Recliner and Beer

Thanks to yet another complete game gem from Roy Halladay, I can now say I’m attending the fantasy camp of the 2010 National League East Champion Phillies. Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think I would get to experience such a run by this team. Four division championships in a row and the distinction of being one of THE elite teams in the Majors? My inner 10-year old is not getting tired of this.

To make it even better, I listened to the WPHT broadcast with Scott Franzke and Larry Andersen through my favorite iPhone app, At Bat. Other than actually being at the field, there is nothing better than listening to a baseball game on the radio. I have such wonderful memories listening to Phillies games in our ’77 Plymouth Volare or our little Panasonic transistor radio on the beach on our annual Summer vacation to Stone Harbor, NJ. The sound of Harry Kalas, Richie Ashburn, Andy Musser, and Chris Wheeler coming through a tinny radio was pure AM gold.

“Swing and a long drive!”

Tonight my thoughts turned to my dad as each inning passed. When the game finally ended, a small wave of sadness hit me. I couldn’t call him tonight. After every big game, it would take about thirty seconds before one of our phones would be ringing.  Instead, all I could hear was a hypothetical conversation in my head. I could hear him gushing about Halladay…finally pronouncing his name correctly after almost 10 months of Roy being on the team. My father had a very funny quirk of never getting people’s name right. I’m quite sure I would have heard the name “Holiday” mentioned several hundred times, even after several hundred corrections.

In 2008, my wife and I went down to visit my dad for the weekend, and as luck would have it, got to watch the Phillies win the NL East crown for that season together. A pizza and the familiar sight of my dad in his recliner with a Coors Light in his hand capped off a wonderful night. It was the only time since 2007 that I got to experience one of these big games with my dad. With me being 125 miles away and he usually heading to Florida for the good part of September and October, it was a rarity for the two of us to get to watch a late-season game in these last couple years. It makes it so special that this game was the first big step leading to their 2008 World Series trophy.

My recliner was unoccupied last night. I’d like to think he was there with us last night, relaxing, having several cans (even though I didn’t have the specific beer my dad liked), maybe snoozing off for a bit (or “resting his eyes”) and celebrating another big Phillies victory. Hopefully, like 2008, this will just be the beginning. As Halladay said last night, “it’s only gonna get funner”.

I sure would like to say I’m going to the fantasy camp of the 2010 World Champion Phillies…

7/23/10 – Milt Thompson

Word came last night that the Phillies fired former player and hitting coach Milt Thompson. This current 2010 squad has become a mirror image of the 1979 team, and unfortunately, as it goes in professional sports, someone… usually the coaching staff… has to take the fall. (On a side note, I’m proud to say that I made this 1979/2010 comparison a full month before longtime Philadelphia sports writer Bill Conlin did in this article). What really makes me sad about this organizational move is now, there may be a chance Mr. Thompson may not be a part of this year’s Phantasy Camp. Last year, he was scheduled to be there to impart his hitting wisdom, but could not be there as he was attending the wedding of Jimmy Rollins. I have a special place in my heart for Milt as a Phillies fan. He first played for the team from 1986-1988. Milt was a fantastic player and had arguably his best season ever in 1987. Sadly he was traded to the Cardinals in 1989, but returned to the Phillies in 1993. So just like Larry Andersen, Milt has the interesting distinction of playing for the Phillies in the ’80’s, leaving, then returning for that fantastic ’93 season. Nothing made me happier when he was hired in 2005 to be the Phillies’ hitting coach. Under his tutelage, the Phillies became a major offensive machine, culminating in three division titles, two World Series appearances and one World Championship. His reaction to his firing exemplified class. No bitterness. No anger. Just business. Milt, you are a Philadelphia Phillies legend.

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.