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Fantasy Baseball Camp: Making it to the Yankees

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fantasy_baseball_campIn his fifth year of participating in Fantasy Baseball Camps, Roy Berger shares his experience of joining a team of legends: the New York Yankees. Although most fantasy baseball camps take place in the spring, the Yankees are the only team that holds a camp twice a year. Roy’s enthusiasm for being in the camp with his brother gives a taste of  just how sought after the spots are for Yankees Fantasy Baseball Camp.

Dear Mom and Dad,

How did this happen? The last time I sent you a postcard, in 1969, it cost three cents. This one is 33 cents. Does anyone use postcards anymore?

You remember that 1969 card. It was from Camp Impala, upstate in Woodbourne, New York. I was 17 and a senior counselor; it was mid-August and I wanted to brag that I was just chosen a General in Color War. Summer camp honors don’t get much higher than that. You probably also remember you never got another postcard from me. We got hosed and the Blue Cowboys, not the Gold Indians, were declared the winners.  We got beat by a hanging chad, 31 years before anyone heard of a hanging chad.  I’ll get over it one day. Maybe.

Anyway, I want to share some good news and it’s certainly worth 33 cents. I know you’ll be proud of me. It only took 50 years but I finally listened to you. Consider it an early anniversary present for your 64th on Wednesday.

I’m taking Mike out to play with me. For a whole week. I could never shake from my memory of listening to Mom back in the mid 60s, day after day and over and over - “why don’t you take your brother out to play?” And it wasn’t just from Mom. It was Dad too on the weekends. I wanted nothing to do with the little rat. Not only is he three years younger than me but he wasn’t nearly as cool.  Heck he didn’t even have a flat-top like all us rad guys did in 1964.

RoyBerger

So finally here we are. Playing together in Tampa, Florida. I’m 61 and Mike is 58, but more importantly Mom and Dad, you’ll be 85 and 84 later in the month and the great news is we can share this monumental moment with you.

This week will be different for Mike and me. While we’ll have a catch like we did on the side of the house on Long Island back in the old days, this time we’ll do it in pinstripes. Yep- those Pinstripes. We’ll both be Yankees for a week at the fall Yankees Fantasy Camp.

I’ve done this for the past four years in January, and Mom you have to be thinking “it’s only November.” Correct, but the Yankees are the only ones that also offer a camp in November. All the other MLB camps are in the January-February pre-spring training window. Why do the Yankees also do a November camp? Primarily because they are the Yankees and they do anything they want (except beat Boston). This camp sold out very quickly to 115 wannabes. Mike and me were supposed to do this last November, but a mean and vicious gal named Sandy blew through the east coast, including Mike’s home of Randolph, NJ. With all the damage, devastation and debris we thought best to put it off a year.

2day1Well, it’s late. We just got back from dinner at Tampa’s legendary Bern’s Steak House; no need to rush back.  And Dad don’t even ask about the prices, you wouldn’t approve. It’s almost ten o’clock and I need to hop into the comfortable sweet sleeper at the Tampa Sheraton Suites which is our host hotel for the week. We are only about a mile from hallowed ground – the Yankees training complex at Steinbrenner Field.  First, though, we have a big day Monday. We go to an optional baseball clinic in the morning, about a half an hour away in Clearwater, and then tomorrow afternoon we’ll join the other 113 campers and measure up the competition.

I gotta run. I can’t wait to write tomorrow and tell you about the 24 Yankees legends that are here to be our coaches and mentors for the camp. What an incredible list of names, all of whom wore a Yankees uniform at some point during their major league careers.

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This is my fifth fantasy camp and I’ve learned from experience the key is rest, especially early in the week. Mike is a camp rookie. I told him to get off his feet and take it easy. Once again he won’t listen to me. He just went to the bar.

Why did you make me do this?

Since I started this crazy hobby of adult over-the-hill baseball, I’ve been to four camps- the Pirates in 2010 and 2013; the Tigers in 2011 and the Yankees in 2012. I’ve chronicled my experiences every year and without exception I’ll hear multiple times from multiple people over the course of the week, “Why don’t you write a book?” Just like listening to my parents and taking my brother out to play, I finally got the message. The book will be published the first week of December and called The Most Wonderful Week Of The Year. With all the things you have to do this holiday season why not go to pre-order a copy right now. It will make my parents very happy.

By Roy Berger for PeterGreenberg.com
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