This year’s Fantasy Camp was held in Port St. Lucie from Tuesday, January 14 through Sunday, January 19. My friends Baboo and Metswinagain were both in attendance. Baboo flew down from NY, Metswinagain came in from the UK and I drove in from the Gulf Coast. The coaching staff had a lot of familiar names: John “Dude” Stearns (aka Commissioner for Life), Duffy Dyer, Bobby Wine, Doug Flynn, Joe Pignatano, Al Jackson, Wally Backman, Lenny Harris, Randy Neimann, Turk Wendell (he returned after a 1-year absence), Dwight Gooden, etc. Two very popular former Mets made their Fantasy Camp debuts: Edgardo Alfonzo and Todd Pratt. For long-time Mets’ fans, these 2 names bring back a lot of good memories from the teams from the 1999 and 2000 seasons. Bud Harrelson was absent for the 2nd year in a row, and Ed Charles was, apparently, ill and unable to attend. Get well soon, Glider. You were missed.
Unlike last year, I was unable to take Friday off, so I missed the Kangaroo Court. But I did make it to camp in time for Saturday’s meeting and the awarding of the brown and gold ropes. It’s not impossible for both ropes to be awarded for the same play, but it’s also not the norm. But on Saturday, that’s what happened. Todd Pratt and one of the campers were trash-talking and Todd decided to pitch to him. And the camper proceeded to hit the ball over the fence for a home run. So Todd was awarded the brown rope, and the camper got the gold. The crowd was amused. Unfortunately, I didn’t get pictures from the meeting — we ended up having to sit in the back, so I really didn’t have a good view of the proceedings. This is all I could come up with — Tank (Todd’s nickname) was regaling the crowd with a very funny story about how he supposedly found a player’s driver’s license (I will not repeat the story because I cannot do it justice):
As always, click on the pictures to enlarge them.
Wally Backman and Tank were the coaches for Baboo and Metswinagain’s team, the Pratt Fallers. Unfortunately, the PF’s didn’t win a single game, but they had a fun team with a lot of good people. In fact, several players from higher-ranked teams said that they would have loved to have played for this team because they’d had so much fun.
Something very special did happen at this camp. For the first time in recent memory, a group of campers beat the pros. The players celebrated on the field as if they’d won the World Series which, considering the situation, is pretty much exactly what they did. The fans in the stands knew what was happening and we were just as excited. It was pretty darned cool.
And now for this year’s batch of pictures. Unfortunately, most of them aren’t great. There was either too much sun or not enough. But here goes:
This is a photo Baboo sent me from Tuesday’s Welcome Dinner. It features 3 of my favorite players from the 2000 NL Championship team. I got to see Tank’s ring at the awards dinner. It’s very, very cool.
And here is some game action from Saturday:
Here is Saturday night’s awards dinner:
And, last but not least, here are photos from Sunday’s campers-vs-coaches game:
Doc started Game 1 (against the top-place team) and gave up 2 runs in the first. He found his groove soon afterwards, and the coaches won the game.
Doc was also pretty incredible at the plate. I know he made an out over the course of the 8 games, but I don’t remember seeing it.
Turk had a bunch of at bats and got several hits. Who said pitchers can’t hit???
It looks to me as if Guy doesn’t think Turk’s going to run.
Turk did pitch on Sunday, but he also played short. Here he is, playing catch with 3B Alfonzo.
It breaks my heart that this was in the shade and is so hard to see. But this is Tank (2000 WS Met) and Duffy Dyer (1969 WS Met) changing places. Duffy caught the first 2 games, and Tank caught the rest.
Joe Pignatano doesn’t play in the games, but he’s still a presence on the sidelines. He’s a true gentleman, and I’m so happy I’ve gotten to spend time with him over the years.
Lots of coaches were out of position. I honestly cannot remember seeing Fonzie play first base.
And here is a picture of Tank and me. Right after he was traded to the Phillies in 2001, I went to a sporting good store and found a jersey that said “Tank” instead of Pratt.
Obviously, we should have swapped places, but we didn’t think of it.
So, Fantasy Camp 2014 is over, but I’m already looking forward to heading East to PSL in 2015. I’ll repeat what I’ve said before; if you are in the PSL area in the days before MLK weekend, you should visit the camp. The tournament games are open to the public, as are the campers/coaches game on Sunday. You will not regret it.