Today is arrival day in Clearwater for the 2019 Phillies Phantasy Camp. The folks attending this year are gonna have a great five days that they will always remember. I’ve attended four Phantasy Camps and one Dream Week, which was the predecessor camp before ESF took over the management of the event.
I was thirty two years old when I went to Dream Week. It was held at Carpenter Complex and Jack Russell Stadium. I was still an active amateur ballplayer, then pitching in a few leagues in Chester County and Delaware and had a really good camp as my team and went to the championship game. My coaches were Greg Gross and Bake McBride and back then the “Commish” was Clint Hurdle who is now the manager of the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Twenty two years later I went again, this time to Phantasy Camp. ESF truly upgraded the
experience as each team now had an “agent” and there were more off field events like the opening and closing banquet, “Bull Session” and “Star of the Game” interviews with Scott
Palmer to enhance the experience. Each day there’s now a Players Court to start the morning with laughs all around. That year I had finished up radiation treatment for a benign brain tumor and it was a tremendous privilege to meet Darin Daulton and offer encouragement as well as share thoughts
My fondest memories of the Camp came the next two times I attended as I did so with my family. In 2016 nine of us went, my two sons, son in law, two daughters, my wife and two daughter in laws. It was a tremendous week as we fellas suited up as players for coaches Mike Lieberthal and Kevin Stocker and the ladies went as Phans. I’ve never had more emotional or proud experiences on a ball field than playing at Carpenter Complex wearing Phillie’s jerseys
with my kids, baseball bliss for me. It was also tremendous honor to wear my favorite Phillie’s number 15, I proudly took my spot at first base in honor of Dick Allen.
During the two years we attended as a family we were also grateful to win the Tug McGraw Award for inspiration in 2016, the following year my son in law Matt Jones won the Charlie Hustle Award, my son Dan won a game MVP award and my son Nolan Ryan won team MVP in 2016 and the camp Cy Young Award in 2017. I got goosebumps watching him go up on stage to receive the trophy from Phillies legend Steve Carlton, that was tremendous!
So this year I’ll be on hand to watch the 2019 contingent of campers make their own memories. The Phillies legends who attend as coaches also have such a great time as it’s a reunion with their Phillies family for them. It’s just fun all around!
-Steve Potter, life-long Phantasy Camper