-by Aristotle “Mugsy” Sakellaridis (Yankee Fan)
The Matts [added things] for the non-Yankee fans.
TAMPA, FL – As they celebrate their 27th championship, the New York Yankees continue to add smiles to everyone around them. [Those same people can’t wait to see Did You Hear About The Morgans]. A week after beating the Phillies, Yankees from the past suited up to play ball against a bunch of fantasy campers in Tampa. The storied franchise always does it right. [If you keep hemorrhaging cash, things sometimes work out.] Showcasing their past is what they do best. Some of the legendary players who donned the pinstripes were, Roy White, Chris Chambliss, Ron Blomberg, Oscar Gamble, Tommy John, Homer Bush, Jessie Barfield and â€œMr. Octoberâ€œ himself Reggie Jackson. [What, no David Arthur “Sky Kong” Kingman!] Also appearing was their public relations man from their past, Marty Appel, along with batboy Ray Negron. Coincidentally both are now book authors with Appelâ€™s Thurman Munson: The Life and Death of a Yankee Captain and Negronâ€™s, One Last Time: Goodbye to Yankee Stadium, being their latest work.
Dave Kingman in Pinstripe Prison.
Other ex-Yankees turned authors in camp included the first designated hitter in history, Ron Blomberg, whose book is appropriately titled Designated Hebrew. [Oy, that’s clever!] Also present were Roy White: Mickey and Me, Fritz Peterson: Mickey Mantle is Going to Heaven, [To grab a six for the ride home], Mickey Rivers: Ainâ€™t No Sense Worryinâ€™ and Reggie: Sixty Feet, Six Inches. Thereâ€™s more than just baseball for this group of Bronx Bombers. They prove the pen is mightier than the bat. [Welcome to Yankee Shill Camp].
Baseball was also played on Steinbrenner Field and for those who think it’s all fun and games, donâ€™t tell that to Queens, NY native Tom Felcon. [Benedict Arnold Felcon got him into baseball]. Heâ€™s been coming to these camps for over twenty years, and the highly competitive Felcon was visibly upset after one of the games. After Jessie Barfieldâ€™s struck him out, Benedict Arnold had this to say:
â€œThatâ€™s bull, he threw me a knuckler. I knew he had a fastball and curveball, but he surprised me with the knuckleball. Iâ€™ve hit safely in every game I played in since Iâ€™ve been coming here, and now itâ€™s over. My 52-game hitting streak is over… Damn Barfield!â€
Ex-Yankee outfielder Barfield was fulfilling a fantasy by taking a turn on the mound to pitch, while Felcon had his family in the stands for the first time since heâ€™s been a camper. They got to witness his 0 for 4. [Felcon is now known as Jesse’s Girl… See video].
Someone who did have at least two hits this week was fellow camper Elanit Snow, the only female player in camp. [Cookie would be proud]. The Brooklynite wore the number two for her favorite Yankee, and she represented Captain Jeter well. [The guys were all zinfandel drinkers and talked about fabric].
To the excitement of the campers and even The Legends, Yankees owner Hank Steinbrenner came down from his office above to say “hi” and thanked everyone for being there. â€œThis was probably the nicest camp we ever had.â€ Steinbrenner added. [His cigarette smoke had the campers coughing, so Hank puffed his way back upstairs].
Surprises are a big part of the week. Last year Richard Gere appeared as a camper and this year was no different. Future Hall of Famer Roberto Alomar stopped by the camp to say hello and admitted, â€œIn my 17 years in baseball my only regret was not playing for The Boss.â€ [We wish you played for The Boss, too Robbie. In 2002 & 2003]. Happy Camper and Toronto native Peter Tsebelis was shell shocked in meeting his idol Alomar. â€œWhat a surprise, by far this is the highlight of my first camp.â€ Tsebelis said. [He’s Canadian, what can you do?]
Toronto Restauranteur Tsebelis with Alomar.
Alomar also took time to give pointers to 14-year-old, second baseman Ricky Negron, son of Ray Negron. Ricky hopes to eclipse Alomarâ€™s mark of 10 Gold Gloves one day. [Do it in Queens, Ricky. Do it in Queens].
This yearâ€™s camp was dedicated to Yankee catcher Johnny Blanchard, who recently was called to Yankee Heaven. Johnny was a fixture at the camp and well-liked by all who came across him. One of the teams was renamed The Blanchards to honor his memory. His uniform was also placed in his corner locker in the clubhouse. RIP # 38.
The next camp is the week of January 11, 2010, so start getting in shape and stock up on those sharpie pens. Autographs from these legends are a must have and they are all willing to sign anything you hand them, except for a blank check. [Bouncing checks is now frowned upon]. So come on down and see if you can throw out Mick the Quick on the base paths, or strikeout Chambliss, Gamble, and Barfield. If youâ€™re really lucky maybe bat boy Negron will hand you a magic bat so you can go yard off of pitchers Gil Patterson or Al Downing [before tearing a hamstring]. For more info call 1-800-268-CAMP or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. [Don’t prank call them… 8) ].
REX O’ROURKE and his 26-12 NFL picks, tomorrow.
Just something to get your mind back to baseball…