February 24th, 2014
When I was younger, I played Little League, where I pitched some, played some infield and outfield, and even caught a couple of times. I wasn’t the worst, but I was certainly not a superstar.
Today, my interest in the sport has grown to a more sedentary perspective. I love to watch my beloved Sox play, live and on TV, and will watch other games, if the Sox are not available.
And every year, I see the Sox offering their Fantasy Week, where people can go down to Fort Myers in January before Spring Training starts and spend a week playing baseball at mini Fenway and rubbing elbows with such Red Sox legends as Luis Tiant, Dewey Evans, Trot Nixon, Butch Hobson, Wade Boggs, to name a few. You get authentic uniforms to keep and an experience of a lifetime. But it’s not cheap. The experiences differ from team to team (The Sox are on the high end at a little under 5K), but if you have had a lifelong dream to play in the bigs, this might be just the thing for you.
And for Roy Berger, born a Pittsburgh Pirate fan, who then became a Yankee fan, this was the culmination of a life-long dream. At the age of 57, he began a 4-year odyssey where he went to a different camp each year: Pirates, Detroit Tigers, Yankees, and returning a 2nd time to the Buc’s organization.
In The Most Wonderful Week of the Year, Berger shares the experience of each week, and how he was apprehensive to be trying to play baseball at 57, and the many many hours in the training room trying to ease the many aches and pains that come from playing baseball all day, every day, for a week. His goal for every experience was basically the same: To get at least 1 hit, and not embarrass himself in the process. He also shares his once in a lifetime experiences to be coached by some of the greats in the game, and meet Pittsburgh Pirate and Hall of Famer, Bill Mazeroski (who also penned the forward of the book), his idol since he hit that fateful walk off homer in Game 7 of the 1960 World Series.
It was also interesting to read about how differently each team organized their camp and how a typical week happens. They all have the same basics, such as authentic home and road uniforms the players get to keep, a 3-inning legends game on the final day, as well as dinners and the like, but the cost varies quite a bit, from team to team, as did the experience he got out of it.
Well-written, witty, and a lot of fun to read, The Most Wonderful Week of the Year, is a great look into fantasy camps, and the men and women who fulfill a lifelong dream of playing for their beloved teams. Check it out!