Doing some house-cleaning in the office this evening, I came across memorabilia from my Phillies Phantasy Camp experience in January, 2003. Hard to believe it’s been 13 years since I had an experience that I look back upon fondly. But it didn’t start out that way.
At the evening orientation prior to Day 1, the organizers predicted that among the 108 Phantasy Campers there would be 10 of us in the trainer’s room in the morning. On Day 2 the number would swell (pun intended) to 40. And by Day 3 the majority of us would be in there, soaking in the hot tub or looking to get wrapped. Proud of myself for getting on base Day 1, my euphoria was short-lived. Rounding third base and heading for home, I felt a pop in my gastrocnemius and hobbled in to score. Feeling that I couldn’t continue, I was ready to pack it up and head back to Jersey — but my Phan wouldn’t let me quit! So there I was on the morning of Day 2, one of the 40 in the trainer’s room in Clearwater, getting wrapped.
But there was more. Apparently my Phan was over-exuberant, and she was flagged by the Commissioner who brought me up on charges in the Kangaroo Court – the judges being Mitch Williams, Larry Andersen, and John Kruk. My advocate was Bobby Wine who thankfully got me off the hook.
On the last day, instead of battling it out amongst themselves, the Phantasy Campers play the ex-major leaguers. The game was held in Jack Russell Stadium, and Darren Daulton was due to be the catcher but had been picked up on a DUI two weeks before camp. Philadelphia born Pat Williams, former GM of the Orlando Magic, was a minor league pitcher before a dead arm derailed him – and he stepped in as the substitute catcher. When it was my turn at the plate, Wild Thing was on the mound – and he threw the first pitch that I watched go by, appearing like an aspirin tablet to my eyes. I looked behind me and Pat smiled: “Still has a major league fastball”. I swung and missed at pitch #2, and was a few minutes late. So I figured on pitch 3 I’d have to start swinging well before Mitch got to his release, and I lined a ball by his ear. He was none too pleased. As I trotted to the bag, first baseman Larry Bowa smiled and said: “Nice hit, old man.”
My Phan called her sons, excited to tell them that their Dad just got a hit off Mitch Williams. To this day she still can’t believe that one of her sons told her to ask him how Joe Carter is, which she innocently did. I can still see the smoke coming out of his ears. Ah, the stuff Phantasies are made of …