Living a Dream

There were doctors, lawyers, dentists, Hollywood producers and other passionate fans, including two women, who now are back in their normal world. Last week, they were in Clearwater for the Phillies Phantasy Camp, wearing pinstriped uniforms with their names on the back.

Some were veterans who had been there before, others rookies. Two Alumni were assigned to each of the 10 teams. Among the first-year campers was Governor Ed Rendell, who was the general manager of a team managed by Rheal Cormier and coached by Ricky Jordan.

Most of the 120 campers survived although many returned home with new aches and pains. Brian Keaton, a veteran of the Army who was wounded in Afghanistan and spent a lot of time in the Walter Reed Hospital, participated as best as he could physically. During the week he was able to get four at-bats but he ended up on the DL when he stumbled and separated his right shoulder.

Saturday night was an awards banquet at the Marriott Hotel on Sand Key Beach. Scott Palmer served as MC and was joined by Larry Andersen, the camp commissioner. Among the awards were the Most Valuable Player, Gold Glove, batting champion, Cy Young, Charlie Hustle, Maje McDonnell, Tug McGraw Inspiration and presentation of the World Series trophy to the Skychiefs, managed by Bob Boone and Greg Luzinski.

Keaton won the McGraw award and delivered an inspirational and emotional speech, “Thank you for giving me a country to fight for. I’m blessed to be an American and have a wife and five kids…….This has been one of the best weeks of my life.” Keaton also won the award for most standing ovations, three.

Two new awards were unveiled. The Mike Lieberthal Iron Man Award was given to the 10 catchers who were behind the plate for their respective teams all week. “Lieby” was on stage to salute each one.

Then, John Kruk went to the podium to present the other new award given in honor of “the best leader I’ve ever seen, no question. He could give you an encouraging word when things weren’t going good and he could also kick you in the ass. It is my pleasure to announce the Darren Daulton Leadership Award.” Out of a side door entered Darren Daulton, who drew another standing-O, as he and Krukker hugged. Ken Romig, who has health issues as does Darren, was the first winner. Yet another standing-O. Palmer posted a video of the presentation on phillies.com. Check it out.

Darren looks great, fit and trim as always.

Sunday was the big finale, each of the 10 teams getting to play a three-inning game against the Phillies Legends at Bright House Field, where the grass is green. Yep, 10 games in one day!

Among the highlights:

**One noticeable difference from their playing days…..the Legends walked off and on the field, rather than jogging. “Got to save energy. It’s a long day,” laughed Eisey.

**Kruk played second base for a couple of games.

**For a couple of other games, the infield was Dave Hollins (3B), Kevin Stocker (ss), Mickey Morandini (2B) and Kruk (1b). Mariano Duncan took turns at third base.

**Outfield at times included Ricky Jordan (LF), Milt Thompson (CF) and Jim Eisenreich (RF), more shades of the 1993 NL champions.

**Daulton was behind the plate but seated in the stands where he chatted with fans and campers signing a lot of autographs.

**When Danny Jackson was on the mound, he threw a pitch into the third base dugout to keep the enemy on its toes.

**Duncan fielded a grounder but his low throw wasn’t scooped by Kruk, who took off his glove and threw it toward the mound. Duncan then threw his glove and so did Jackson. One the very next play, Kruk successfully fielded another low throw from Duncan. Kruk tossed his glove in the air and walked off the field. Good it was the third out.

**Chris Coste caught all 10 games for the Legends.

**Morandini grounded into a double play when a left-handed shortstop fielded a ground ball, touched second and threw to first. Mickey heard from his fellow Legends.

**Other Legends included Von Hayes, Scott Eyre, Marty Bystrom, Warren Brusstar, Dickie Noles, Tommy Greene, Steve Schrenk.

**There were two still photographers in the infield, one in the outfield and one in foul territory on each side of home plate. As best as I could tell, none got wacked by a baseball.

Everyone scattered to catch late afternoon flights home. The campers packed their uniforms, a treasure from living a dream. More importantly, they had a lifetime full of memories, especially the shortstop that turned a DP on Mickey.

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