Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Life is a fantasy at Pirate City

I’m standing in a hallway inside Pirate City on Monday afternoon, waiting for former Pittsburgh Pirates manager Chuck Tanner to finish autographing a few dozen baseballs so we can chat for a few minutes before he has to head back to the fields.

It’s the first day of the Pirates' annual fantasy baseball camp, and a guy walks past me wearing a Pirates (what else?) uniform and carrying a cell phone.

Now, these campers, which included this guy, pay nearly $4,000 for a handful of baseball games, a few aches and pains and a lifetime of memories.

The former Pirates players are gracious hosts. They manage and coach the campers and do their best to make these guys feel like major leaguers for a week, which I think has to be kind of hard for a guy who, I don’t know?, has won a World Series ring or two, but the former players like Steve Blass tell me is not the case.

It’s all about the campers this week and sharing as much as you can share of the big league experience. Heck, they paid enough for the experience.

Anyway, this guy gets on his cell phone and morphs into a little boy right in front of me.

I hear snippets of his conversation because, you know, I’m not eavesdropping, but here is what I heard:

“It was great ...”

“I got two hits …”

“I wanted to catch, because I never caught before, and they let me catch, and I picked a guy off third base.”

Actually, that last line sounded more like this:


You get the point.

This guy was having a great day.

Maybe a career day.

He was talking to his wife, who I imagine was back home somewhere in Pennsylvania, because he gave her a quick weather report: “It’s about 72 degrees. It’s beautiful.”

She must have loved that.

Then he told her something which I’m sure she really loved to hear. I’m sure all the wives back home long to hear these five words from the overgrown boys they married and packed off to Florida this week for six days of fun and games.

“And I didn’t get hurt.”

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