There are usually some pretty good stories that come out of Fantasy Camp week. Sometimes they are stories shared by the former players about their old teammates and the crazy stuff they would do. Sometimes they are stories told by veteran campers about past camps they’ve attended both here in Goodyear and even those camps that took place in Winter Haven. I’ve had the opportunity to witness these stories as they are happening–before they become actual stories–and I’ve probably helped spread them around, turning them more into fish tales instead of factual events.
This year hasn’t been any different. In fact, one particular story stands out to me this week. It all began when one of the campers, Dennis Barriball, tried to catch a pop fly during a game on the second day of the tournament. In what appears to be a random freak accident, as Dennis was catching the ball his achilles decided it didn’t want to stay intact anymore. Dennis fell like a shanty in a snowstorm and, after being checked out by our trainers, was diagnosed with a blown out achilles.
For most people, this would be the end of Fantasy Camp. The inability to walk makes it tough to play any baseball games. Dennis thought differently and decided the next day that he could at least bat for his team (in Fantasy Camp they allow pinch runners to start at homeplate and run to first as soon as the ball is hit).
Rumors of his
stupidity heroics made it to the major league side of the complex where Cleveland Indians pitcher Vinnie Pestano tweeted about it. Here at the Indians, we like to Connect our fans to the players so we asked Vinnie if he cared to meet Dennis. Without hesitation, Vinnie said he would love to and the rest is history.
Many other great stories happened this week, but this was the one that sticks out the most. An average guy comes to Arizona to live out his fantasy of playing baseball just like the pros. He gets to be managed and taught by former players that he grew up idolizing. He gets to use the same facilities that the current Tribe players use and if this isn’t enough, he not only ends up catching the attention of pro ball players, but he gets to meet them too! If that isn’t Creating memories and Connecting generations, I don’t know what is!
Thank you to Vinnie for being a stand up guy and to Dennis Barriball for, well, just being a guy who can stand up on a blown achillies!