2014 Randy Hundley Cubs Fantasy Camp

Here is my recap of the 2014 Randy Hundley Cubs Fantasy Camp

This is the 32nd camp put on by Randy and my third camp. The RHCFC this year ran from Sunday night 1/26 thru Saturday night 2/1. The big hook this year was the opportunity to be among the first people to play baseball on the field at Cubs Park.

The cost of the camp apparently went up this year. The last two times it was $3995, this time around I believe it was $4300. Like me, if you use your uniform from a previous camp, you save $300. Also as with previous camps, everyone stays at the Dobson Ranch. Apparently, there are new owners so it is no longer a Best Western. They also no longer brag that the property is the official Spring Training home of the Cubs.

This year there were only six teams. Talking with previous participants, there were only six teams in 2013 too. There were eight teams prior to 2013’s camp. Each team had 11 players this year so there was only 66 campers. This is alarming as the number of participants has been dropping over the past few years. More on this in a little bit.

Sunday night is the initial meeting of everyone in the Dobson Ranch meeting space. Randy introduces the retired Cubs there. This year the teams consisted of:

Todd Hundley

Ron Coomer

Willie Wilson

Mike Remlinger

Fergie Jenkins

Bobby Howry

Lee Smith

Pete LaCock

Ed Lynch

Bobby Dernier

Rick Reuschel

Jose Cardenal

Glenn Beckert and Randy Hundley (obviously) are both there but neither were coaching, except Tuesday when Glenn covered for Fergie who had to leave for the Warren Spahn dinner in Oklahoma. Fergie was back Wednesday night.

Usually Carmen Fanzone attends, however he is battling pneumonia, I hope he gets well as Carmen is one of the nicest guys you will ever meet. Bobby Howry lives in the area and was able to spend the week with the camp. I suspect he had such a good time, he will be back. Mike Remlinger participated in the Giants camp the previous week and had already committed to helping out Randy during the Cubs convention. Remlinger, also a rookie Cubs camp participant, indicated he also had a great time. I suspect he will be back too.

Keith Moreland and Jody Davis were noticeably absent. There was a rumor about why they were not there but I am not going to speculate and post it here.

I was on the Smith/LaCock team. Because there were only six teams, each team played the other five teams twice. Because the Giants held there fantasy camp the week prior to the Cubs, there were no games against them this year.

Monday: It was kind of confusing on Monday as, unlike past camps held at Fitch Park, everyone was going to the Spring Training complex. The locker rooms we utilized were inside Cubs Park. We were set up in the visiting team locker rooms. During the morning meeting, Ed Lynch was pretty explicit to everyone to only go where we were supposed to go. Due to the construction and finishing touches being performed around the complex, we never did get to see the Cubs clubhouse in Cubs Park. The complex is situated on what was once a golf course. The four minor league fields we played on were at the opposite end of the complex. The quad fields have a two story building in the middle of them so a person can overlook all four fields unobstructed. We did field exercises and batting practice before playing the first game. After the first games ended, we were given a tour of the new operations building. Al posted pictures of that building’s clubhouse and weight room. We went through those areas, a large classroom type room with full audio/video capabilities, and strolled past the video review room. Most of the technology is not completed. They only send a tech out from Chicago every other week. As an IT guy myself, I can only image the amount of crap dumped on that guy each time he shows up. We also toured the covered batting cages area, there must be about 25 separate batting tunnels. Very impressive setup. There is also a grassy workout area, a half field for infield drills, and two other minor league fields. After the tour, we had lunch and played our second game. It was a long day and we got out of there around 5:30. We won the morning game and lost the afternoon game.

When Howry showed up for the warm ups Monday morning, Lynch was thanking him for wearing a tight shirt and showing up in tremendous shape. Of course, Lynch was busting his chops. Bobby looks like he is still in playing shape and is about 6’6".

Tuesday: Not much happened of note Tuesday during the day. We lost both our games to fall to 1-3. On the other hand, I was talking with Remlinger at Dobson Ranch Tuesday night about his presence in the camp. I know I appreciated it. Mike had reached out to Randy Hundley about helping out with the camp during this year’s Cubs Convention, but he never heard back. Once Carmen backed out I guess Randy called him. Mike was at the Giants Fantasy camp, but, like Howry, he lives in the Mesa area, so agreed to join the Cubs camp. Remlinger said he had talked with Kerry Wood and Woody had agreed to show up, then Woody got sick so he did not show up. Mike and I were talking about the lower attendance and the future of the camp. My personal opinion is that the 30 something’s who have the money to pay for the camp look at the list of names and go, "who are these guys?" They have grown up on late 80’s players and 90’s or 00’s teams. The camp is lacking an anchor participant to draw those 30ish guys to camp. Remlinger agreed with the "generation gap". He wants to work with Randy to bring in additional players, suggesting the ’03 team would be within his contact list. I’d pay for that. Remlinger turned out to be a fascinating guy to talk with, I must have spent 2 hours Tuesday talking to the guy.

Wednesday: We lost our morning game by 1-run and then knocked off the previously undefeated Wilson/Remlinger team to raise our record to 2-4. On Wednesday night, the coaches have their own dinner while the campers are on their own for dinner again. About 10 of us cruised over to Portillo’s which is about a mile from Cubs Park. As a transplanted Illinois person, Portillo’s is sadly lacking in Vegas. The fact that there is one in Tempe makes me very happy. It’s only a matter of time before Vegas gets one.

Thursday: Our team swept both teams to get to 4-4 on the week. At lunch we were talking to Howry about his welcome to the big league moment. It was with the White Sox against the Astros. He told us about how he had given up two straight hits to Bagwell and Biggio and was facing Alou. He knew he had thrown a good pitch, but the thunderous explosion as Alou crushed a 3-run homer said otherwise. Bobby said it was unreal how loud that blast was off the bat. The next day, he mowed all three down in one inning, that was when he knew he could succeed in the bigs. Thursday is the barbecue night at Dobson Ranch, LaCock, Wilson, and Remlinger cooked the standard board of fair (burgers, brats, and dogs) for dinner. Afterwards, Fergie held court outside the hospitality suite. Remlinger also hung out all night. We talked about Sosa’s corked-bat game. Remlinger actually wound up with the broken part of the bat. Both he and Fergie said it would be pretty cool if Sosa showed up to camp. Remlinger is the one who told Sammy he had two options. One, play ignorant and don’t talk to the press, which probably would not have been good or…Two, tell them that the corked bat was part of the batting practice bats and it mistakenly got put into the game bats. I guess we know which choice Sammy used. Again, Remlinger simply a fascinating guy to talk with.

Friday: If not for the 1-run losses earlier in the week, we may have won the week. We beat both teams on Friday for a 5-game win streak and finished at 6-4. Pete LaCock told a harrowing tale of being held up by some kids while he played for the Royals during the Friday morning meeting. It was quite the tale and I am not the one to tell it again, however, it was truly scary. As is customary, the team takes the coaches out to dinner on Friday night. We took Lee and Pete to an Italian restaurant in Scottsdale. Lee kills me, such a funny and genuine person, I would do anything for that guy. He is very careful with what he eats and drinks and avoids cigarette smoke with a vengeance.

Saturday: The Cubs beat the Campers 22-21. It looked like we might actually win this year as the Cubs were down 8 going into the 6th inning. But damn if they didn’t come back. A couple walks, a couple balls hit over the outfielder heads, a couple errors that should have been outs, and it was all over. Ken Rudolph and Garry Jestadt also played in the big game this year. We can take solace knowing we were the first people to play a game on the Cubs Park field. The foundation Ricketts and Theo are building with this complex is solid. The place is top of the line, Fergie said it best, "I played 30 years too early" while we toured the grounds. He was duly impressed.

Once again when the week was over, it was a total letdown to return home and then to work on Monday. On the other hand, there are friendships made at the camp that will last for a long time. Once you go to camp, you are in a small family. I can only say, if you have never done the camp, I’m talking to you Al Yellon, you need to do it once in your lifetime.

To Pete LaCock and Lee Smith, you guys are the best, I wish we could have won a couple more for you. Fergie Jenkins is an amazing man, is there anything you don’t know? Mike, thanks for the conversation. Willie, you are the man! Bobby D and Ed, you guys are a great team together. Bobby H, thanks for participating. Of course, Randy, thanks for holding the camp.

You can always track me down via my BCB profile. I have to thank Mrs. VCF for letting me go again. She's the best!

This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of SB Nation or Al Yellon, managing editor (unless it's a FanPost posted by Al). FanPost opinions are valued expressions of opinion by passionate and knowledgeable baseball fans.

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