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Living a Baseball Dream
For the true baseball fan, the period between the last pitch of the Fall Classic and the first pitch of spring training stretches long and bleak. You can brighten up this winter wasteland with a stay at a fantasy baseball camp.
All the Major League teams hold fantasy camps during the off-season. Regular people get a chance to play with and learn from the pros, usually including former stars of the team. According to the camps, you don’t have to have great baseball skills. In fact, you don’t even have to be in particularly good shape. All you have to have is a love of the game and enough free cash to pay the fee.
That fee can be steep. For example, the New York Yankees charge $5,195 for their 2010 camp, scheduled for Nov. 7 to 13 in Glendale, Ariz. The fee includes accommodations at a four-star hotel, two nine-inning games a day as well as games against the pros. Campers go home with a professional Yankee uniform and batting practice jersey, an equipment bag and a baseball autographed by all the coaches and instructors, who include former Yankee stars. Members of the 2009 instructional staff included Ron Guidry, Mel Stottlemyre, Goose Gossage, Tony Kubek, Moose Skowron, Bucky Dent, Mickey Rivers and Roy White.
Cubs fans can attend a Randy Hundley Fantasy Baseball Camp Jan. 16 to 23, 2011 and Jan. 23 to 30, 2011 in Mesa, Arizona. The basic setup is the same as at the Yankees camp, but the cost is only $3,995. Former Cubs who have participated in previous camps include Hundley, Ron Coomer, Rick Reuschel, Bobby Dernier and Ed Lynch.
Fans of the White Sox can head to Glendale, Ariz., Jan. 11 to 16, 2011; the camp costs $4,195. Former Sox greats participating in previous camps have included Bobby Thigpen, Robin Ventura, Harold Baines, Ron Kittle and Daryl Boston.
If you are interested in a baseball fantasy camp experience, check out the camp offered by your favorite team. Some teams have more than one camp, so you can choose from among different experiences. Different teams have different restrictions regarding age, physical ability, etc. Some camps allow women, while others do not. Most give you as close to a big-league experience as you are likely to get this side of A ball, including professional equipment and facilities, a big-league field and access to former players and coaches.
But for most participants, the best part is spending a week with other baseball lovers and, for a few days at least, having baseball once more.