Some quick thoughts after participating in the Indians One-Day Baseball Experience today (a one-day fantasy baseball camp).

  • First, the Basics: For a day, you’re treated like a big league player. You park in the Players’ Parking Lot, change in the visitors clubhouse, get a full uniform (blue and white jerseys, pants, belt, and socks), and play two games on Progressive Field (with lunch provided in between).  When you send in your measurements for your uniform, you’re asked a preference of positions. They make up a roster and assign starting positions (with the understanding that folks will trade off as the day progresses).
  • Team managers were Joe Charboneau (for the visitors) and Len Barker (for the home team). The teams swapped so you had a chance to have both guys as your manager and to be in both dugouts. Former Indians Kevin Rhomberg acted as third base coach for both teams for the first game. Three very different personalities, and I liked each of them immensely.
  • Being the only female to play in a fantasy camp is kind of like walking into Cheers–everybody knows your name (or learns it pretty quickly).
  • Everybody felt like a kid. One guy made it into 3rd and then went back and slid into 3rd just for the sake of doing it.
  • I was thrown out at home after trying to score from 2nd. Joe Charboneau liked my hustle. (He actually said, “That’s how we used to play the game.” I was thrilled.)
  • When I got to the Players’ Parking Lot, I told the security guard I was here for the One-Day Baseball Experience. “Are you working today?” he asked. “No,” I replied. “I’m playing.” “Get out!” he replied. He was delighted to find my name on the list, remarked that I was the only woman participating, gave me a high-five, and told me to have a great time.
  • The above Basic description is slightly false. If you’re a guy, you change in the Visitors’ Clubhouse. If you’re the lone female, you change in the Visiting Manager’s office, which had a little front office with a desk and small sofa and a rear room that is set up as a mini-locker room, with a locker cube, shower, toilet, and sink. I didn’t get to see where the guys changed, but they didn’t get to see where I changed either, so I guess we’re even. The feeling of isolation went away once I got to the dugout.

    The door to my "locker room."

    My locker cubby with one of the uniforms still hanging up.

 

      • To get to the Visitors Dugout, you go down a wide concrete stairway that meets an identical stairway coming from the clubhouse. That leads you to a longer, low room with a pitcher’s net (presumably to keep warm during a rain delay) and a skanky little bathroom (I understand that the seat will be up, but didn’t your Mama teach you to flush?). Then you go up a few more concrete stairs, turn, and you’re in the dugout, and the gorgeous expanse of Progressive Field is in front of you. It’s hard to describe, but when  you walk up, it’s as though the field has been waiting just for you.
      • I must have said “This is awesome” and “This is so cool” to myself thirty times during the course of the day.
      • To warm up, I played long toss with Vince, who played shortstop and pitched for our team. We both noticed that as you watch the ball coming towards you, the rows and rows of seats in the background obscure things. Each of the little white seat numbers stood out in the morning sun. Kind of an optical illusion that sometimes made it difficult to follow the trajectory of the ball. One of those things that gives you a new appreciation for the reflexes  and skill it takes to play the game well at a high level.
      • I played left field for about half the day, as well as taking an inning in right and a few in center. There wasn’t  a cloud in the sky for the second game. The grounds crew ran the outfield sprinklers before each game, but the grass was still bone dry by the end. It’s hot out there, and the sun is particularly difficult if you’re in left field. It made me a bit more sympathetic to the guys who’ve been through the Indians’ revolving door in left field this season.
      • If there were an MVP for warm-ups, I would have won it. Rhomberg razzed for making the guys look bad when we were doing the butterfly stretch.It’s not my fault I can put my knees on the ground. Crazy Steve, who caught the first game for our team, was next to me during the warm-ups. He told me it wasn’t fair for me to do stretches that his girlfriend couldn’t do. That was just about the only time anyone alluded to my gender, and since it was funny, well, it was cool.
      • Charboneau still likes his chaw. There was a half circle of spit on the floor of the Visitors Dugout dugout in front of his favorite perch.

        Joe Charboneau rises above it all. He was fun.

      • Charboneau told me sometimes he calls Len Barker “Len Barfer” due to a long-ago drinking incident. Ah, youth…
      • Rhomberg asked me what sports I played in high school. “None,” I said. “I was kind of a punk.” “Where did you go to high school?” he asked. “Heights High,” I replied. Saying that you went to Heights answers a multitude of questions.
      • One of the best moments of a fabulous day came when I walked out of the dugout and onto the field for the first time. I looked up at the scoreboard and saw my name listed along with the rosters of both teams. I was still feeling in awe of where I was when half a dozen people (there were maybe 30 or so friends and family in the stands to watch) started cheering “Yay, Susan!” I walked over to where they were in the front row. I didn’t know them. They were wives, brothers, and friends of some other players. They said they saw that I was the only woman participating and were cheering me just for being there. How often does that happen to any of us?
      • I ended up going 2-3 the first game (which we lost, 6-5) and 1-3 in the second game with an RBI and a run (which we won, 9-7). I didn’t hit the ball as well as I would have liked and reached base on an error, but thou shall not piss of the Baseball Gods by bitching about how you get on base.
      • I would do it again in a heartbeat.

Trying to find a batting helmet that fit. There were only four or five, and one of the staffers had to carry them between dugouts in between innings.

In the visitors dugout.

Somewhat shorter than Omar Vizquel, somewhat taller than Eddie Gaedel.

Leading off at second. Len Barker is coaching 3rd, so I have a big target to run to.

13 Comments

  • Bob Sproule says:

    Fabulous story and a fabulous experience, Susan!

  • Susan Petrone says:

    Thanks, Bob!

  • Vern Morrison says:

    I only saw the second game, but you done good out there, Susan, and everybody looked like they were having a lot of fun.

  • Vern Morrison says:

    Oh, I meant to add this: when I got to the gate near the players’ parking lot, I told the security guard I was there to watch the fantasy game.

    “Okay,” he said. “Do you have a son in the game?”

    No, I told him, I’m here to watch my friend Susan play.

    His face lit up with genuine pleasure. “Oh, the young lady! Excellent!”

    When the game ended, I saw him again on the way out. “Did you have a good time?” he asked. I told him I had a great time, but not as great as the players did. I don’t know that guard’s name, but I like him immensely.

  • Susan Petrone says:

    I just love that he called me “young.” :)

  • Wendy says:

    For the past 6 Januarys I’ve been going to Mets Fantasy Camp in Port Saint Lucie at their Spring Trining Facility. It’s 6 days and we have 2 games a day from the second to5th day (7 games) and a 3 innings against the pros on the last day. The womwn’s locker room is the umpire’s dressing room. There were 2 of us last year, and the most there have been is 5–there are 100-120 men). It’s loads of fun, physically exhausting and I love it. During the season (this year it’s in September) we have a reunion and go to a game where we are introduced on the field and the next day we play on the field at CitiField. We. Women can hold our own with the men!!

    • Anthony Carbone says:

      Hey Wendy what are the dates of the citifield games? i used to play with a few guys in fantasy camp named Danny Maestro and James McCullen and i wonder if they still attend? i would love to see them if they make the trip to NY?
      Thanks
      Tony

  • Susan Petrone says:

    Wendy, that’s so cool. I was told by Bob DiBiasio that the most women the Indians have had in the January fantasy camp was four out of 96-100 campers. I’d love to do it sometime.

  • Perry Barber says:

    Great recap, wonderful photos. Thanks for sharing your joy with all of us, Susan!

  • Mary Jo says:

    So glad you had such a great time. BTW, sounds like you can play better than some of the “real” Tribe Guys. Perhaps a call into the Dolans is in order….

  • Catherine Smythe Zajc says:

    Thanks for sharing the dream, Susan. If I were you, I’d be sitting by the phone waiting for the September 1st call-up to The Bigs, hopefully for the Progressive Field home team.

  • Nick Tozzi says:

    I enjoyed the story of your day as a big leaguer, Susan. Plus, the mention of Eddie Gaedel in one of your photo captions was very funny.

    -Nick

  • terri larson says:

    love this, susan! what an experience. you did it for all of us who can only dream!