Fantasy Camp?! His whole life is a fantasy camp!

Yes, I’m a Seinfeld fan. Therefore I find it necessary to reference the quote(s) related to whatever topic is at hand. Right now, the topic at hand is Fantasy Camp.

I’m in the middle of reading Fantasy Camp: Living the Dream with Maz and the ’60 Bucs by Jim O’Brien, a sportswriter based in the South Hills of Pittsburgh. This book relates some of his experiences while he attended the Pirates’ Fantasy Camp in Bradenton, Florida in January of 2005, where many of the players in attendance were members of the 1960 World Champion team (plus Steve Blass of the 1979 World Series champion team). While the book is titled Fantasy Camp and it does relate some stories about the 2005 Pirates’ Fantasy Camp, it is primarily about the characters who took part in the fantasy camp. It paints a picture of the personalities that made up the 1960 Pirates team and it gives the players a chance to talk about their experiences over the 40+ years since they won the World Series. One of the most interesting things that I’ve found from reading the book is how many people associated with the Pirates live or lived in Upper St. Clair, which is where I went to high school. I knew there were some Steelers affiliates (Myron Cope used to live down the hill from our house and Chuck Noll probably only lived like a mile from our house), but I hadn’t realized that so many former Pirates live there. These include Steve Blass (won two games for the Pirates in the 1979 World Series), Kent Tekulve (I went to school with his son), Lanny Fratarre (long-time Pirates broadcaster – apparently no longer lives in USC), Grant Jackson, and some others, I think.

In addition to the Upper St. Clair connection, I have found that I have a geographical connection with some ex-Pirates based on where I lived during college: Webster Hall in Oakland.  It turns out that a number of Pirates lived in Webster Hall during the 1960’s. Since, during that era, the Pirates played at Forbes Field in Oakland, Webster Hall would have been a convenient place to live. In fact, it is no more than 3 blocks from Webster Hall to the site of Forbes Field. Talk about an easy commute! By the time I moved in, I’m pretty sure there weren’t any Pirates still living there, but I find it neat to think that I lived in the same building as many former Pirates.

Anyway, it’s interesting to read a book about a local sports team and hear about the players’ everyday lives and how they could easily intersect with your own – like Steve Blass looking after his grandson at the children’s play place at South Hills Village Mall. I could bump into a guy who contributed greatly to the Pirates World Series victory while I’m out shopping for underwear! That’s pretty wild.

A final side-note: if we’re talking about people who have been in the World Series and are affiliated with Upper St. Clair, we need to mention Sean Casey, who went to Upper St. Clair High School, graduating in 1992. He played most of his career in the Major Leagues with the Cincinnati Reds, but began this season with the Pirates. Just before the trade deadline, he was sent to the Tigers, managed by Jim Leyland, the former Pirates manager who led the Bucs to 3 straight division titles in the early 1990s. Anyway, Sean Casey came up big for the Tigers during the World Series, hitting 2 home runs and a few doubles. Unfortunately, the wretched St. Louis Cardinals won. With the way they played, the Tigers didn’t deserve to win, but still, who wants to see the Cardinals win?

I’m only about 150 pages into the book and it weighs in at a little over 500 pages, so I still have quite a bit of reading ahead of me. When I’m done, I’ll post my concluding thoughts on the book.

2 Responses to “Fantasy Camp?! His whole life is a fantasy camp!”

  1. November 1, 2006 at 1:40 pm

    That’s a funny headline even though I don’t remember the context at all. Was that the Keith Hernandez episode?

    And it seems that everytime I visit a mall in the Pittsburgh area, Jim O’Brien is signing autographs at the Waldenbooks. I’m sure I’ll see him again as Christmas approaches.

  2. 2 Colin
    November 1, 2006 at 4:50 pm

    No, it doesn’t involve Keith Hernandez. It’s from the season 4 episode “The Visa”. In it, Kramer goes to a Yankees fantasy camp in Florida and punches Mickey Mantle. (See the script here.) Anyway, George is talking about how ironic it is that Kramer went to a fantasy camp because of how his entire life is so fantasy-like compared to that of other people. The full quote:
    “Kramer goes to a fantasy camp. His whole life is a fantasy camp. People should plunk down two-thousand dollars to live like him for a week. Do nothing, fall ass-backwards into money, mooch food off your neighbors and have sex without dating; that’s a fantasy camp.”

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