Results tagged ‘ Phantasy Camp ’

Opening Day Tickets

…have arrived. Apart from the obvious excitement of going to the first game of the 2011 season, afterwards there will be a special Phillies Phantasy Camp alumni event. I’m very eager to see a lot of my fellow Campers from this past January. 

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Thank You… Again!

The MLBlogs Leaders for February 2011 were announced, and incredibly, I moved in to the Top 20, landing at the #19 slot. Last month, I was mistakenly placed at the number one spot, but was quickly revised, still keeping me in the Top 25. 

Thank you to everyone again for continuing to stop by and taking the time to read and comment on my blog. I truly appreciate it!
And congrats to everyone who made the list, including my Phillies brethren!

The MLBPAA 2011 Baseball for Kids Legends Game

A selection of 2011 Phillies Phantasy Camp Legends will be taking part in a charity game this Sunday, March 13th, at Bright House Field in Clearwater, FL. Click HERE to purchase tickets.

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Mickey Morandini’s Journey Back to the Minors

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Bob Brookover of the Philadelphia
Inquirer has a piece today about Legend Mickey Morandini and his first go round
at coaching at the Minor League level for the Phillies’ short-season
Williamsport affiliate.
 

“‘I’m
very intense when I coach,’ Morandini said. ‘It’s not to the point where I’m
screaming and yelling, but I’m really into the game. You’ll see me pacing a
lot. I have a lot of nervous energy.’”

Anyone who attended Camp can easily attest to this
statement. Mickey may be the only Legend coach to almost be tossed from a game
for arguing with the umpire. 

All the best to Mickey. Welcome back to the
organization!

A Kiwi in the Sun

When I first started this Phillies Phantasy Camp Diary, one of the first comments I received was from a fellow who attended the Camp back in 2007. What immediately struck me was the fact that he was from Australia. I could not believe someone from a country where you are more likely to swing a cricket bat rather than a Louisville Slugger, traveled such a long distance to play baseball in Florida.

Cut to the Rookie Meeting during the first night of Camp. The emcee, Scott Palmer, spotlighted a few campers that were quite noteworthy, including Luis Liceaga, who was attending his 11th straight Camp. One Camper who was given a special mention was a guy named Mike Macdonald, who made a very similar trek as the Aussie Phillie back in ’07. Mike came to Clearwater all the way from Auckland, New Zealand.

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On the night of the Awards Banquet, Mike’s incredible experience was about to get more special. He was given the “Maje McDonnell Award” for being the one player at Camp who “has personality and is a class act both on and off the field”. This garnered a huge response from the appreciative crowd.

Unfortunately, since the Drillers never played his team, the Sea Dogs, I never had a chance to meet and chat with Mike while we were down in Clearwater.

But thanks to the power of the Internet, specifically, Facebook, I have finally been able to speak with Mike on a regular basis. Our conversations range from New York City, to cricket, to the two of us being fellow drummers. (Check out Mike’s former band, The Warners). I recently asked Mike if he would be interested in answering a
few questions for the blog and he was more than willing to share every wonderful memory of his Camp experience.

Sarge: When and how did you come about becoming a Phillies/baseball fan?

Mike: I first went to the U.S. in 1986, to be in a summer camp counselor in Raymond, Maine. The locals were, of course, totally obsessed with the Red Sox, and talked all day about the games. Camp was late June through August, and the Sox were going well that year. So I started getting hooked into the game as their enthusiasm rubbed off onto me. But when I came back home, there was no baseball, so I forgot about it. In 1993, I got pay TV, and they had baseball on their sports channel. It
was September that I got the service, and I started watching the games, and we only got two a week, but of course it was a good year for the Phillies, so we got to see them a few times, and then thru the World Series. Looking at the other teams, they were all like super athletes who went out to WIN WIN WIN. The Phillies looked more like a bunch of guys who turned up on the day, didn’t shave, didn’t comb their hair, and just woke up. I thought if I was a baseball player, that was the sort of team I’d want to play on, and they always looked like they were having fun, win or lose. And more than any John Kruk always looked and acted like I think I would, if I was there. I also liked the way Lenny Dykstra played.

S: How do your friends and family react to your devotion to baseball?

M: The people down here don’t get baseball at all, and they are not sure why I like it. Rugby is our biggest game, and the true fans of it don’t talk to me when they know I don’t like their game. But to each their own. Our national game is played in the rain and the cold of winter, and it’s a group of guys rolling around in the mud. I
went to see Phillies versus Mets at Shea on a perfect hot sunny Sunday in the summer. I know which conditions I like to watch a game.

S: What was your motivation to attend Phantasy Camp?

M: Watching baseball on TV is always so much fun, so I thought it must be better to play, but its the chance to play with the pros that made me want to go to Camp. I don’t really have motivation to want to play it every week, and wouldn’t really have the time to do it. There is a little bit of baseball down here, and maybe it’s growing, but you can’t compare it to the experience of the Phantasy Camp. Of course there was going to be great players at the Camp, but I figured there would be a lot of guys like me, so wasn’t worried about my skill level. I was more worried that I don’t know the game and ex-pros like the rest of the Campers.

S: Did you ever play any sort of organized baseball in New Zealand?

M: I played lunchtime softball at school, but had never played baseball until Phantasy Camp. My last hit at softball would have been 1980 I guess.

S: Which Legend did you most want to meet at Camp?

M: I wanted to meet John Kruk, as I saw so much of me in him, and his attitude. I mean, he’s 110% professional, as much as they joked around at Camp, they can’t help but be good at what they were paid to do, and loved doing every day. They will always be ball players. I also wanted to meet the other ’93 Phillies, as they were the first players that I watched play and made me want to be a Phillies fan.

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S: How was it to win the “Maje McDonnell Award”?

M: I was blown away when I won the award. I didn’t know the story behind the man, apart from the stories from L.A. (Larry Andersen) and the video clip of Maje that we saw, but the fact that they picked me as the winner means that I must have left a mark in their minds. I talked a few times to L.A. and Scott Palmer, and they, like so many others, were just blown away by the fact that someone would come halfway round the world to be at the Camp, and that I knew about the Phillies, have been to
games, and wanted to be part of it. And then L.A. asked me to give a little speech… I don’t really remember what I said, but I seemed to say the right things, and my speech was enjoyed by everyone. Some asked me afterwards if I knew I was getting the award, as they thought I had pre-written the speech. But no, I was stunned when L.A. said I had won. I knew I wasn’t going to get an award for my playing, but to be picked out of everyone was incredible.

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S: What were your favorite and most memorable moments at Camp?

M: So many great memories, but I guess getting my first ever base hit in our third game was probably the top, as it showed me that I could play, and it felt so great to run the bases. Pity I never got a run, but was only three steps away from home plate before being thrown out, so I almost made it. Also hitting Ricky Bo’s (Bottalico)
pitch in the Legends game was great. I got thrown out at first, but to be put out by John Kruk was not a bad thing. And L.A. had heard that I wanted to meet Kruk, but was never near John to say “hi”, so at the end of the second day of camp, L.A. took me to the pro’s locker room, where I spent about 10 minutes talking one-on-one to Kruk and Dave Hollins. John and Bull (Greg Luzinski) signed a ball for me, and spoke to Kruk a couple more times after that. He didn’t know what to say when I said that I was a Phillies fan and at the Camp mainly because of him. Dave Hollins suggested that maybe I was insane. The interaction of the pros was great to see. Just like when Ricky Bo was telling me how to run home form third as soon as the ball was hit in our game when I was on base. The opposing Legends said he was full of sh!t, and what the hell does a pitcher know about running… great stuff.

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S: Will you return to Camp some day?

M: I would love to go back to Camp. For me, just like going to the August reunion, it’s simply a cost factor that’s stopping me. My Camp experience was well in excess of twice the costs of everyone else, with the extra flights to get to America and over to Florida, as well as our exchange rate of around 75 cents to your dollar, and going to Camp means it will be a few more years until I can afford to go back and watch the Phillies play at home.

S: Finally, how will the Phillies do this year?

M: Some good wins at Spring Training, but I am reading a few stories about Chase Utley, and some others with broken bones (Domonic Brown)… so who knows. Its a long season (I don’t know how they do it every year), but we all want to see another win, so I’ll pick good things for 2011… as I’m sure we all are.

2011 Phillies Phantasy Camp recaps

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In honor of the Phillies’ first Grapefruit League game against the New York Yankees at Bright House Field today, I’ve made a handy-dandy link list for each day of the 2011 Phantasy Camp.

More Phillies Phantasy Camp Photographs

I was very excited to come home today to a package from the professional photographers at Northeast Photography who were trailing our every move in Clearwater. Inside was the photo CD I ordered on the last day at Phantasy Camp. So without further ado…

1/20/11 – Day Two, morning

Of all the photos I received of myself, this was easily my favorite. My facial expression while entering the clubhouse for the very first time could be described as a combination of a “deer caught in the headlights” and a “get the hell out of my way” Wookiee. In front of me is the famous Gene Mattioni. In case you forgot about Gene…

I have to admit a secret. The baseball hat I’m wearing is actually a 1963 replica Baltimore Orioles cap. I felt a little guilty about this, but as you can see from the clock on the wall, it’s 8:10. I can not be responsible for any fashion choices this early in the morning.

As soon as we got our uniforms on, we posed for our Phillies Phantasy Camp “yearbook picture”. I was voted “Most Likely To Not Be Able To Keep A Cleanly Shaven Face For More Than Two Minutes.”

You’d think I would look a little more excited about our very first Kangaroo Court Session.

You’d think.

1/20/11 – Day Two, afternoon

Here I am warming up in-between innings during our first game against the eventual Camp champions, the Red Barons. This was my only inning manning the hot corner. Luckily for the team, I had no defensive opportunities.

*whiff*

I look like I’m swinging a cricket bat here. No “six” for me.

Not only is this my solid single off of the eventual Camp Cy Young Award winner, Tony Carfagno, but I couldn’t help notice the similarity in this Mike Schmidt poster that used to adorn my bedroom wall:

Obviously there are a LOT of differences in these two shots. The biggest one of course is Schmidt is wearing a blue, away uniform. I am wearing the home, red pinstripe uni. Everything else is very minor.

Mike Lieberthal gives me the big high five for my single and hopefully starting the rally to break through to the pitching clinic we were suffering through. 

The pitcher won.

Here’s my attempt at being an Allen & Ginter baseball card

Later at Bright House Field…

Advancing to second base on a single after my walk. 

Among the plethora of memories from Camp, there was one that, to most people, would seem very mundane, but struck me oddly compelling. During my first at-bat at Bright House Field, I fouled a ball over the backstop into the sea of empty blue seats. The ball clanged around like a Plinko disc. I got such a kick out of that. You go to a Major League game and see foul balls all the time landing into the throngs of fans. The throngs of fans were obviously not in attendance, but I just hit a foul ball into a spot that any number of Major Leaguers have also done. Call me crazy, but I thought that was pretty cool.

“crazy”

Fine, let’s continue…

Leading off of second…

…and forced out.

1/21/11 – Day Three, Kangaroo Court

Because of our devastating 18-0 loss against the Bay Sox at Bright House Field, the Drillers earned the first ever “Gomer Award” given to an entire team. Scott Palmer laughs along with us as Kevin Stocker tries to justify our play on the field.

It didn’t work.

1/22/11 – Day Four, afternoon

Here I am going for the force out in our third game of the day against the Sky Chiefs. I’m actually not really remembering this play. I don’t recall if the out was made, but I do know there was no throwing error. Trust me, I remember my errors. And here is the sequence of my most dunderheaded miscue of the Camp, later in the game…

(Here is my excuse: I mentioned that it was extremely windy this day. Check out the palm tree directly behind me. And which way am I running? I rest, your honor.)

It’s looking good…

Nope.

I picked up the ball and wildly hurled it towards first. I dropped to my knees in utter disbelief. Two errors in one play. Beautiful.

I got it this time!

*phew*

I’m in the middle of a drop-to-the-knee Jayson Werth swing here, minus the power. My facial expression? Even I can’t figure this one out.

This hit resulted in a fielder’s choice. 6-4 if you are scoring at home.

Kevin Stocker is underwhelmed by my even more underwhelming fielder’s choice. I’m overwhelmed by my lack of oxygen intake running down to first base.

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Speaking of photography, over on my other Phillies blog, The Transplanted Phan, I recently posted a couple links to a gallery by Philly.com staff photographer David Swanson. He’s taken a really great approach to capturing the sights down in Clearwater this year. He’s armed himself with an iPhone and has been documenting Spring Training using the Hipstamatic app and adding a hi-fi/lo-fi approach to traditional documentary photography.

Phillies Insider Legend Interviews

I had the pleasure of briefly meeting John Brazer, the Director of Publicity for the Phillies, while I was at Phantasy Camp last month. John recently filled in for Larry Shenk, the VP of Alumni Relatons, over at the MLBlog Phillies Insider, and posted several quick interviews with some of the Legends while in Clearwater. Below are the links to all his conversations…

Thoughts of Spring

Every single February, the sights and sounds of players returning to their respective Spring Training homes to prepare for the upcoming season of baseball is pure bliss. It means that one day, very very soon, we will break free of winter’s icy clutches. We’ll be able to break out the shorts, head to the ballpark, eat some deliciously unhealthy food, and bask in the glow of the greatest game in the world. Eventually, we’ll tire of the oppressively hot and humid days and eagerly await the crispness of fall and hopefully… for our team to be playing in such weather. Then we do it all again. Beautiful.

For Phillies fans, especially me, this particular Spring Training is very special. Even after four straight divisional championships, two World Series appearances and one Ring, anticipation for the 2011 campaign could not be any higher. Unless you’ve been living under three feet of snow this winter, you know exactly why.
(Oh, a lot of us have been under three feet of snow… ok, sorry)
We got Cliff Lee back.
But in addition to all the hope I feel as a fan for my team to make another serious run for the World Series, what is really putting the goosebump factor off the charts is the plethora of photographs and videos of these players at the Carpenter Complex; the same Carpenter Complex me and roughly 140 other Phantasy Campers were at only a month ago…
Phillies players stretching and having catches in the outfield of Schmidt Field… just as we did  the very first morning.
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Roy Halladay, Cole Hamels, and Roy Oswalt throwing off the pitching mounds… the same ones I threw off of in front of Legends Mitch Williams and Dickie Noles.
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Charlie Manuel and Cliff Lee making their way to the fields from the walkway in back of Bright House Field… the same path us Campers took each and every day.
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(photos by Yong Kim)
I can still feel those fields under my cleats. I can still smell the dirt, grass, and leather. I can still hear the snap of gloves, the crack of bats, and the rustling of the palm trees.
No matter what happens this upcoming season, I will always remember the 2011 Spring Training. I think every Phantasy Camper will…
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This winter, the MLB Network has been running a special focusing on the 20 greatest baseball games ever played in the last 50 years. Yesterday, they broadcast the most recent edition, #14 on their coveted list: Game 6 of the 1993 World Series.
For an hour and a half, hosts Bob Costas and Tom Verducci broke down the game with Mitch Williams, and the ultimate hero, Joe Carter. It was a fantastic analysis of the game, even though I knew how it would ultimately end. What really got me were the replays of each inning, and watching all these Phantasy Camp Legends on the field at the same time, playing in one of the most famous games in baseball history. Eight Phillies on that field were on the same field as me one month ago… Eisenreich, Stocker, Morandini, Hollins, Andersen, Williams, Kruk, Thompson… and who came in for Milt later in the game? 
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This was the first time I had seen these guys in action from there heydays since I left Camp. What an absolute treat. I have watched video upon video of that ’93 crew, but now it took on a whole different light. I shared the diamond with them. I hung out with them. I played against them. I was made fun of by them!

If you told me when I was 17 years old that I would be doing everything I experienced with THOSE guys, I would have told you how insane you sounded.

Well, it wasn’t a dream. It was real… it will always be real.

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I want to thank the MLBlog Phabulous Phillies Phun for posting this picture of Legend Kevin Stocker in one of the franchise stores for his Emerald City Smoothie company, which he spoke about the night of our Bull Session during Camp. Smooooth…

*NEW* MLBlogosphere ranking… and thoughts on this Phantasy Camp Diary

Due to an unfortunate error, my unheralded rise to “MLBlogosphere Immortality” was indeed, miscalculated. According to the revised numbers, I am now sitting at #24 on the current list MLBlogosphere leaders. But, just as I was when I found out I even made the Top 100 the first time, I am still over the moon.

Even with the little boost in viewership with the help of others in the world wide web, I still shook my head in disbelief. So did others. Unfortunately, my #1 ranking did not sit so well with some fellow MLBloggers.
Every writer on MLBlogs maintains their blog for various reasons… from the professional all the way down to the pure love and joy of just talking about their favorite team. As anyone who has read my diary can attest, I write my blog for many personal reasons. I do not write this blog or take these photographs to compete for a number. Yes, I want to share my thoughts and stories with as many people as humanly possible. Who doesn’t? This is why we blog.
I do not get thousands upon thousands of hits per day on my blog. However, at least once a day, I get a beautiful email or fantastic comment that makes so incredibly proud of what I am doing. These are moments that can’t be quantified with rankings…
The numerous campers, umpires, and Phillies fans and autograph seekers in Clearwater who would stop me and tell me how much they loved the blog, it’s sentiment, and how much it resonated with them, even before I began the full daily recaps…
The folks who couldn’t tell you the difference between a baseball and a football, absolutely moved by the writing and the emotions of the blog…
The husband and wife who printed up and bound my diary and which now holds a spot on their bedroom nightstand…
Family, friends, and strangers who are now seriously contemplating signing up to attend not only a baseball or sports fantasy camp, but to have a similar dream-making experience…
The married couple who found inspiration through my blog to attend Phantasy Camp next year as a way to overcome their own personal tragedy…
The father who reads the diary along with his 8-year old son…
——————
There is a very good chance I may not be among next month’s MLBlogs leaders. I’ll probably be dropping from #24 to #1,024. 
And I do not care.
My goal with this diary was to document to the best of my ability my emotional trip, have as much fun as humanly possible, all while paying tribute to my father. If my story touched a few people along the way, all the better. Mission accomplished.
I want to thank EVERYONE for their continued support and readership. The 2011 Phillies Phantasy Camp is over, but this diary is not. There are many more stories to be told. 

Pitchers and catchers are reporting. Spring is around the corner. Opening Day will soon follow.
Life is beautiful.
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