August 2-3 2015 - Mets Fantasy Camp Reunion

Fantasy Camp Reunion
Sunday August 2, 2015

The last part of Mets Fantasy Camp is attending a Mets game together with the other campers. Then we all get to take BP and play baseball on Citi Field on Monday. I've been excitingly awaiting this weekend.

All the camp participants gathered outside the Bullpen Gate in right field, renewing friendships and sharing stories. I told a few guys that I got here early - April 1st, and was waiting for everyone else to show up. We picked up our tickets and line order number. I had #54, the list was in alphabetical order. As we entered the ballpark gates, we received a Michael Cuddyer poster and a pack of 4 Topps cards. I threw the poster in the trash, I wasn't going to carry it around all night. We gathered in the tunnel behind the bullpen in number order until it was time to go out.

Waiting to go on the field

Walking onto the warning track from beside the bullpen was a little surreal. I've been all over the stadium this year, checking out different views and angles. But I hadn't been in centerfield. We got ovations from the sparse crowd that was gathered a hour early for the game. Many campers families were in the stands, cheering on their camp players. I tried to take pictures while out there and got a few, Mr. Met even roamed down the line saying hello and posing for pictures.

Ready for our video introductions

Waiting our turn

The view from center makes the ballpark look bigger than when you are in the stands. The cameraman went down the assembled line while the PA announcer read off the camper's names. Each camper would nod or tip their cap on the video screen. Then at the end of the line, the names and faces of the recently enshrined Mets Fantasy Camp Hall Of Fame members, then a ring ceremony for the camp Championship team. Each member of the winning team got a very nice Championship ring modeled after the 1986 Mets World Series rings.

The view from center field

As we begrudgingly shuffled off the field, Noah Syndergaard was stretching in right field, warming up for his start tonight. A few of us snapped some pictures of him as we exited the field. Everyone from camp, their friends and families were gathered in the center field Big Apple seats, the same ones that the 7Line uses for their outings. It was an exciting night as the Mets hit 3 HRs in one inning. The Mets sweep the 3 game series to tie Washington for first place.

Ready to play ball at Citi Field

Fantasy Camp Reunion
Monday August 3, 2015

After less than five hours of sleep, I climbed out of bed at 6:30am ready for the day. I got to the ballpark around 7:30, meeting up with a dozen or so early bird campers. We signed a customary waiver, picked up our stack of personal baseball cards and headed for the visitor's clubhouse. Quickly I got dressed into my blue road uniform, wanting to get out on the field ASAP. Never had I walked through the same doors that MLB players use to get to the field. Now I wish I had paused a bit to reflect. It was a beautiful morning, we were supplied with snacks and coffee but I ignored the sweet temptations and caffeine. My mission was to go straight out to the outfield to look around.

Starting the morning at Citi

Everyone gathered around former Mets 2B Doug Flynn as we got started. A couple trainers led us through stretching and warm ups. We had a numbered system for each campers chance to hit batting practice, I was one of the last to bat. Former Mets catcher Barry Lyons pitched to me. I hit the ball hard but with no lift and hit mostly grounders. I had not swung a bat since January in Florida and it showed.

Using the visiting dugout

It was pretty cool to think that this was the same spot where the Mets had just swept the Washington Nationals to tie them for 1st place in the NL East. I don't remember ever being free to roam on a big league ball field. Back in the 1980's we got to go in the visitor's dugout at Candlestick Park. It was camera day and the infield was roped off so fans could walk around and take photos of the Giants players on the infield.

My view playing left field

I learned my lesson in January about chasing down fly balls. I pulled my quad muscle and it hampered me the whole week of camp. I went from slow to turtle speed (or pathetic cripple). I did not want to go down that road again just for one at bat.

I didn't shag many balls during BP since the outfield was severely crowded with about half the campers on the grass. Once BP was over and the game started we rotated teams each inning so everyone got a chance to play in the field. For the game our team was first to take the field, I took left field as I had every game in Florida. I played two separate innings in left field and never got a ball hit to me.

I was number 27 in the lineup so it took a few innings to get to my atbat. I led off an inning fouling away a few pitches, avoiding swinging at some low balls and eventually grounding to the third baseman. I ran to first to avoid the groundout but the ball beat me to the bag ... and went right past the first baseman. I kept my speed, turned the corner of the bag and headed to second base. I don't know what made me think I could make it but I did. I ended up stranded at third as the inning ended.

Headed to the clubhouse

The day started off nice with a breeze but it warmed up quick and got hot. I snuck into the tunnel a couple times where the air conditioning was a nice relief break. Lunch was provided with more than I could eat just like at camp.

Visitor's clubhouse

The facilities at Citi are very nice, I hope to get a tour so I can see some of the other behind the scenes views of the ballpark. Just being on the diamond today was so special. And getting to see all my fellow campers again was very nice, they were a big reason I had such a great time back in January. And I got to meet a few families of my fellow campers. I tried to spend some time with each of my camp acquaintances either during the game Sunday or while on the field today. Such great people with a common love of playing baseball and rooting for the Mets.

I'm excited to give camp another go this January and do it again!