Hooray! Another year at the Red Sox Fantasy Camp - #8!
Jeff and I were already in Florida from Wed for the Play at the Plate men's baseball tourney at Pirate City in Bradenton. I rented a car to drive down to Ft Myers while Jeff was finishing up there. He was doing the photography for them. I watched the am game with the team I filled in for on Thursday because there were a few players that were late. Then I drove down to Ft Meyers. I am so looking forward to seeing everyone. I decided to stop in at Ada's Supermarket to pick up my food, water and other stuff I'd need for the week. We are switching hotels this year from the old Clarion to the brand new Holiday Inn. Looking forward to that change. The Clarion is a low scale hotel/motel that I can't stand to walk barefoot in. Not that I walk barefoot anyway, but still - it gives you the creeps. So I turn into the parking lot for Ada's and I see that it has been shut down. Bummer! It was an organic supermarket, a small Whole Foods. I should have researched it beforehand because their website says it is expanding to a new location dated Aug 2009 so I wonder when it will reopen if ever. The hotel is not listed in my GPS (note to self - get updated maps) so I get the cross street and hope for the best. I stop at Publix and at least get some water, peanut butter and jelly, some microwave popcorn and the good ole Epsom Salts. Hopefully I won't need them. I worked out hard in preparation for this camp. Boot camp 3x/week from 6-7am. Started in September. Plus I did sprints and I worked out at the gym as much as I could.
I arrive at the hotel and I immediately see Lee 'Stinger' Stange along with the Grants' Rick Sr and Jr. Let the reunion begin! It's pretty cool when you walk in somewhere and literally everyone knows you. I get more hug/kisses/ compliments during this week then the whole year put together. If that doesn't boost your ego, I don't know what would. I get room 406, a corner room overlooking the pool - the right back corner of the hotel. Lo and Behold - there is no tub! A huge shower stall is in the bathroom. How will I take my baths??? There is a microwave and refrigerator and a king size bed. Nice! They do have a hot tub outside so perhaps that will suffice. I go back downstairs and start socializing. Charlie Ahles(newly married), and the Courcy's Lisa and Jen (the mother/ daughter campers) are out by the pool. After a bit, I decide to take back my rental to the airport and grab the shuttle back to the hotel which is just down the road. In fact a lot of airline crews stay there. On the shuttle there are a couple of rookies - both named Brian, (Shea and O'shea) - and they are playing for the Orioles team. This year there are 7 Red Sox teams and 1 Orioles. The Oriole camp didn't get enough campers so Larry merged them in with ours. The Orioles won't be part of the draft, which is a bummer. I think they would be better off merging in with the rest of us. Hope they have some talent or it could be a long week for them. Gary Allenson and Scott McGregor will be managing their team along with Jim Palmer when he shows up later in the week. Which means Hall-of-Famer Kim Fletcher (gone 23 years at the camp) won't be on Allenson's team this tear. New hotel and manager - hope that she can handle the changes. I've been on Kim's team before and she's a great teammate.
Back at the hotel, people are starting to come in. Larry Marino (president) , Jay Harris (Vice President) and Larry's mother are starting to register us. I get a name tag and they even made Jeff one. I see Ollie Jacob, Fred Maloy and I go outside and sit with Kim, Curt Pollitt, Lane and Mary Perrins, Bill Hofmann, Mike Cooksey. We start to play cribbage, Lane and Kim vs Curt and I. We are getting our butts kicked and then Curt had to leave to run some errands so Al Venditti steps in. We start winning, but had to call the game short of the finish because the Hall Of Famers (campers who have 10+ years) have a meeting at 5:45. The HOF'ers to be inducted this year are Jeff Ladue, Gary Perkins and Al Venditti. I hope they have the induction when Jeff is here so that he can get pictures. Then 7:00 rolls around and it's time for our dinner/reception. It's a buffet and the ladies and HOFers get to go up first. I sit with Janet Miller, Kevin Marden, Caroline and Jerry Moses, Rico and Elsie Petrocelli, Mike Andrade and Bill Campbell. The rookies are introduced and we immediately know who is going to be elected to do the 3-man lift later in the week. Eddie Munoz. What a great character - a lot of fun. He heard about the camp from Al - they met at a bar in Boston before a Red Sox game. When Al told Ed about it, he had to go. And here he is. The Orioles players announce themselves too. There is one young guy, Kevin Walsh, for the Red Sox camp who won the camp as a sales incentive. After dinner Larry makes his announcements and notes that we will start at 9:45 instead at 9:00. Get a little more shut-eye. Marc Sullivan is introduced as the Camp Director. The other pros are introduced: Gary 'Mugsy' Allenson, Joe Azcue (when Jose Santiago came to camp Joe was known as Jos-B - pronounced hose-b- therefore Santiago was Jos-A and Joe was Jos-B, Joe is also the Kangaroo Court Lawyer), Gary 'Ding Dong' Bell (Kangaroo court emcee), Dave 'Boz' Boswell, Tom 'Burgy' Burgmeier, Bill 'Soup' Campbell, Joe Castiglione (appeared later in the week - the voice of red sox radio), Jim Corsi, Steve 'Shag' Crawford, Milt Cuyler, Brian 'Dauber' Daubach, Rich Gale, Steve 'Psycho' Lyons (will arrive Monday), Scott McGregor, Rick Miller, Bill Monbouquette (will not be coming because of an ongoing illness), Jerry Moses (Kangaroo Court emcee and co-director of on field operations), Jim 'Cakes' Palmer (to arrive on Friday), Rico Petrocelli, and Lee ' Stinger' Stange. Brooks Robinson was supposed to make an appearance, but had to cancel due to an illness -get well Brooksie! After dinner, I socialize a bit at the bar and outside there is a fire pit - real nice! It's chilly and windy out. Then Al takes me to find some dark beer -porters/stouts, but it's late and the place is closed. Oh well! Back at the hotel Allenson said he would take me tomorrow to find some. It really is no big deal, I don't plan on drinking too much, but you know how guys are! Lane, Mary, Cooksey, Al and I decide to meet in the lobby at 8:00 for breakfast and leave by 8:30. There's a buffet in the am. I go to bed at 10:30.