I spent the weekend in Port St Lucie watching some friends participate in Mets Fantasy Camp. It was as much fun as I’d had in ages.
In order to make it to PSL in time for the morning meeting, I left home at 5:30 a.m., and arrived at the Mets’ minor league complex just in time to grab a little breakfast. The food was mediocre, but let’s face it — you don’t go to fantasy camp for the food! There were 70-something campers, mostly men, and I have to say that I am in awe of the women who attend. There’s no way I could do it. Anyway, I went specifically to visit with my friends The Great Baboo and Metswinagain. They played on the same team, the Finding Nemos, which was run by Super Joe McEwing and Randy Niemann (= “Nemo”). The third coach was Al LeBoeuf, who spent his entire career in the Phillies’ minor league system, so I should be forgiven for not having known who he was.
Other former Mets who were there included Joe Pignatano, Ed Charles, Bud Harrelson, Al Jackson, Barry Lyons, Pete Schourek (who looks as if he could still pitch!), Eric Hillman, Kevin Baez, John Stearns, Ron Swoboda, Duffy Dyer, Felix Millan, Bob Apodaca, Anthony Young, Lenny Harris, Tim Teufel, Wally Backman, Doug Flynn and Pat Zachry. I know there are more, but I honestly cannot remember any more names. I apologize profusely in advance to anyone whom I have omitted. I was lucky enough to meet several of these men, and had some really interesting conversations with them. They made me prouder than ever to be a Mets fan.
The Finding Nemos had qualified for the Final Four on Friday, and I got to see both ends of Saturday’s doubleheader. I’m so glad I did because the Finding Nemos won the championship that afternoon. Their pitcher, Dave, had 4 complete games in two days, and we in the stands were worried that his arm would fall off before the day’s end. Baboo caught all 4 of those games — with a broken leg, to boot!
After the games, the players went to have their aches and pains treated, and I went back to my hotel to nap and get ready for the Awards Dinner to be held at the PGA Country Club. The dinner was a blast — Baboo won the Gary Carter award for best catcher in camp, and his battery mate, Dave, won the Tom Seaver award for best pitcher. Dave also won the team’s MVP award. I sat at their table, and had a lovely conversation with Randy Niemann and Joe McEwing. I’d always thought they seemed like good guys, but now I know for certain that they are. The whole team was good guys, and I was welcomed with open arms by the pros, the campers and their wives. Every camper receives a baseball with the autographs of all the professionals, and the person who handed them out obviously didn’t know who Al LeBoeuf was either, so Al was handed a ball. But, since he obviously didn’t need one, the team kindly gave it to me. Whenever I get my own place, I will put it in my “girl cave”, along with my autographed Tug McGraw jersey (another gift from the truly Great Baboo), my 1986 World Series autographed picture (a gift from a former boss), and other treasures I’ve accumulated over the years.
On Sunday, the professionals played each of the 8 teams, one by one, starting with the champions and working their way down to the #8 team. I stayed for the whole thing, and ended up sitting with Metswinagain and Baboo along the left-field line eating lunch while the lower-ranked teams played. The professionals won every game, but some were closer than others. There were some good plays and some clunkers, but it was obvious that everyone was having fun.
I left for home (and the Jets game) around 1-ish after a truly outstanding weekend. I hope to go again next year, but as a fan, not as a player. I know that other teams do fantasy camps too, and I hope those campers have as much fun at their camps as Mets fans do.
Here are some pictures. They did not come out well at all. Part of it is because the sun was so bright that I could barely see what I was taking a picture of. Others are fuzzy because people moved when they shouldn’t have. Remember, you can click on the pictures to make them larger.
Anyway, here goes: