Every January for the last 10 years, I have attended the Kansas City Royals Fantasy Camp in Surprise, Arizona. This year’s camp was memorable because it was kind of like a reunion for the members of the 1985 World Championship team–I was an infielder. The other players in camp included Steve Balboni, Buddy Biancalana, Bud Black, George Brett, Mark Gubicza, Mark Huismann, Charlie Leibrandt, Dennis Leonard, Hal McCrae, Darryl Motley, Greg Pryor, Jamie Quirk, Bret Saberhagen, Pat Sheridan, Jim Sundberg, John Wathan and Willie Wilson. Royals Hall of Famers, John Mayberry and Jeff Montgomery also attended.
Fans attended the camp and were placed on one of six different teams and managed by three different Royals alumni. Campers played games against other teams and learned the fine points of baseball. The best part of the camp is after the games when alumni mingle with the campers in the clubhouse and share stories about our careers it was like to play in The Show.
At camp’s end, campers thanked the members us for helping to make the camp special. Many campers expressed how much the Royals and baseball have been such a great part of their lives.
Many campers have attended multiple Fantasy Camps. One of my favorite campers is Byron “The Professor” Strom. Byron is a former college chemistry professor from Iowa. He has attended the last 10 Fantasy Camps in Arizona. The Royals also appreciate The Professor. We showed him by giving him a signed jersey with number 85.
It was wonderful to see many of my old teammates. Our team had a special bond and we overcame great obstacles to win the World Series championship. In 1984, we had lost the AL playoffs to the Tigers who went on to win the World Series. Most of us came back to spring training in 1985 very eager to get back to the post-season. That year, we accomplished the ultimate goal of every player in MLB–to win a World Series ring. Even though the spirit of all of the alumni at the camp remains youthful, it was evident that all of us are affected by age.
Last season’s American League Champion Royals rejuvenated the fans and created new Royals fans all over the country. We are eagerly waiting for our team to return in April to begin another quest for a World Series trophy. Our core players, Alex Gordon, Lorenzo Cain, Escobar, Salvador Perez, Eric Hosmer, Jeremy Guthrie, Jason Vargas, Yordano Ventura, Danny Duffy, Kelvin Herrera, Wade Davis, and Greg Holland are still on the roster. I hope that all of these players and our newest Royals are ready for the grind and to make it back to the post-season.
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