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Wed, Feb 5th, 2014

Rod Carew is Welcome Addition to Twins Camp!

Twins icon, National Hall of Fame Member and 1977 American League Most Valuable Player, Rod Carew addresses the campers during the Friday evening banquet.

Last April at the Twins' home opener, Rod Carew stopped by the suite of Bruce and Randy Grachek to say hello.  During his visit, he and camp director Stan Dickman discussed the possibility of Rod joining us for the 2014 Twins Fantasy Camp.  Rod was excited to pursue it and when it appeared that the camp would be another sell-out, he and Stan were able to arrive at a schedule that worked with his busy schedule.  We couldn't have been more excited!

Rod arrived in Ft Myers late on Wednesday evening and was able to share two full days at this year's camp.  While at camp, he went from dugout to dugout meeting and chatting with this year's campers.  Rod looks like he could still grab a bat and hit .300+!  Friday morning Rod could be found in the batting cages prior to game action, providing hitting instruction and insights to those campers fortunate to be in earshot.  A more gracious and genuine Hall of Fame member would be hard to imagine.  Rod shared time with countless campers and was available to sign their personal memorabilia for them during Thursday's lunch.

"A Pair of Hall of Fame Members"

Twins Camp Hall of Fame member, Scott McDougall poses with National Baseball Hall of Fame member, Rod Carew, between innings of Thursday afternoon game action.

One of the highlights of Rod's visit and the entire camp week came on Friday evening, as part of the banquet festivities.  In September of 1995, Rod's youngest daughter Michelle was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia.  The Carew family searched extensively for a bone marrow match to help in her fight with the disease.  When no bone marrow match was found, an umbilical cord blood transplant was performed in March of 1996.  Michelle lost her battle with leukemia, passing on April 17, 1996 at the age of 18.  Since that time, Rod has devoted much of his time and energy to working with organizations dedicated to research on all types of blood born cancers.

This year, Mark Haigh, an attorney from Sioux Falls, South Dakota, made a return visit to the Twins camp.  Mark and some of his friends from Sioux Falls had attended the camp in 2009.  In June of 2011, Mark was diagnosed with AML - the same type of leukemia that Rod's daughter had battled.  Over the past three years, Mark and his family have bravely battled with everything the cancer could throw at him.  Having followed the family's journal entries on Caring Bridge, we knew first hand that his chemotherapy treatments, eventual bone marrow transplant and the continued medications have continued to place hurdles to his recovery.  Mark is fortunate to be surrounded by a great wife, kids and friends who were with him through every challenge.

While at camp, Mark had the opportunity to chat "one on one" with Rod, and to thank him for all of the work he has done and continues to do in this battle for better and more successful treatments.  In his Caring Bridge Journal, Mark documents, in very personal terms, the impact that his meeting with Rod had on him.  Anyone interested in keeping up with Mark can do so by logging on to http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/markhaigh/journal/index/0/0/asc.

On Friday night, Rod presented an autographed jersey to Mark prior to his taking questions from the campers.  He explained that he knew first hand the battle that Mark and his family had been engaged in and pointed to Mark as an example of how far the research in fighting AML had come since 1996.  He wanted all of us to understand the courage that Mark had demonstrated and commended him in his continuing struggle.  Suffice to say that there were plenty of damp eyes, and most in attendance experienced a bit of trouble swallowing when Rod had finished his remarks.

Rod and Twins Camper, Mark Haigh at the podium during Friday evening's banquet.  Rod presented Mark an autographed jersey.

Rod Carew is considered by most to be among the top 100 players to have ever competed at the Major League level.  What those of us in attendance at this year's camp learned is that his greatest work may well have been off the field and out of the batter's box.  On behalf of everyone at the Twins camp, we wish to again thank Rod for joining us this past camp and look forward to the opportunity to have him join us at a future Twins Fantasy Camp!

Wed, Feb 5th, 2014

Julio Becquer is Camp's Newest Hall of Fame Member

Julio Becquer reacts to the standing ovation given him by those in attendance at the Tuesday evening banquet in which his selection to the Twins Fantasy Camp Hall of Fame was announced.

The Minnesota Twins have been fortunate to have had on their rosters over the years, some incredible professionals.  Players who not only played the game the way it was intended to be played, but who have continued to demonstrate class and a passion for the game long after their own playing career has ended.  When you consider what former Twins might make up that list, Julio Becquer certainly belongs in the Club's Top 10!

A native of Cuba, Julio was signed by the Washington Senators and moved to Minnesota with them in 1961.  He played outfield and first base for the Twins in their early years here in the upper Midwest and when his career was over, chose to stay in Minnesota to make a life for he and his family.

He has been involved with the Twins Fantasy Camp for over two decades.  His smiling face and welcomed encouragement and coaching have become a constant each January.  "No one loves baseball and people more than Julio", said Stan Dickman.  "To say it just wouldn't be an official camp without him is an understatement.  Now, even in his 80's, he brings a youthful joy for the game that is simply contagious.  For all of these reasons, the camp's Hall of Fame members felt Julio to be a perfect representative of excellence in the camp experience."

In accepting this honor, Julio again proved eloquent in his remarks.  "It's hard for me to fully express what the camp and you all have meant to me.  It's more than the baseball, you are all like family to me.  The people I've met at camp are just the way people are supposed to be.  I thank you all for that and for allowing me to be a part of this incredible experience."

We also had some "unfinished" business with the camp Hall of Fame in 2014.  Last year we learned that Russ Sampson had also attended his 10th camp in 2013.  Russ received his plaque and Twins Camp Hall of Fame player's bag on Tuesday evening as well.

Russ Sampson receives his Hall of Fame plaque from camp director Stan Dickman.

On behalf of all of the members of the Twins Camp Family, we wish to congratulate both Julio and Russ on their Hall of Fame honors!

Wed, Feb 5th, 2014

2014 Twins Camp is "Historic" On Many Levels!

The 2014 Twins Camp Pro Staff included two National Baseball Hall of Fame members in Rod Carew and Bert Blyleven.  This year's staff also included three new rookie coaches with Mickey Hatcher, Greg Gagne and Dave Goltz making their first camp appearances.  The 2014 staff consisted of, back row (left to right) Bill Campbell, Julio Becquer, Juan Berenguer, Eric Rasmussen, Dave Goltz, Phil Roof, Tom Brunansky, Gene Larkin, Greg Gagne, Rick Aguilera, Milt Cuyler and Kent Hrebek.  Front row (l to r): Ron Coomer, Tim Laudner, Mickey Hatcher, Lee Stange, Rod Carew, camp director-Stan Dickman, Bert Blyleven, Tony Oliva, Frank Viola, Dick Stigman and Frank Quilici. (photo by Al Schuth)

The 2014 Minnesota Twins Baseball Fantasy Camp will certainly be one to remember!  This year's camp was a sell-out as early as June 1st (a record!), with the largest group of campers ever to attend the Twins Fantasy event - 131 campers.  The ten team camp field required the addition of some new coaches bringing our Pro Staff to a total of 22 former Major Leaguers - the largest Pro Staff ever.  To our knowledge, this was also the first time that two "sitting" members of the National Baseball Hall of Fame were in attendance at the same camp.  Harmon and Bert worked the camp together on many occasions, but Harmon was battling his health issues in 2011 when he was scheduled to attend the camp.  It was that January that Bert was named to the Hall of Fame .

With the impressive remodeling and expansion currently underway at the Lee County Sports Complex and Hammond Stadium, the camp, for the first time in it's history, needed to make a "road trip" in 2014.  For 2014 the "Five Plex" formerly home to the Boston Red Sox was the temporary camp headquarters.  While this move created some unique challenges, it turned out to be an incredible facility with the large size of this year's camp.  The Plex easily handled all of our campers, Pro Staff members and Trainers.  While the kitchen no longer had any equipment, Camp Clubhouse Manager and all around camp guru, Chad Yoder, came to the rescue by securing some incredible equipment for Chef George Serra and his team to use for the week.  Thanks to Chad's efforts and George's creativity, we were able to prepare and serve a record number of 2556 hot breakfasts and lunches to a hungry group of players, coaches, umpires and grounds crew members.

Perhaps the most welcome comment of the week came from Twins television "Play by Play" announcer and veteran camper Dick Bremer when he shared with Stan on Friday that he had originally had some concerns when he heard we would be holding the camp at the Five Plex.  Dick commented "I'm sure it's created some additional issues for you and your team, but I frankly have had to remind myself that we're not at Lee County - the transition has been virtually invisible to us as campers."

This year's camp was made up of campers from 16 different states and two Canadian provinces.  While Minnesota's hosting the 2014 All-Star Game was the "Official" theme for the camp, the unofficial theme could well have been "Father knows Best"!  This year we had a record 13 father-son or father-daughter groups in camp that included 32 total campers.  We also had several brother acts and one brother-sister combination with Jim and Annie Breitenbucher.

"We couldn't have been more pleased with the 2014 Camp", commented Camp Director, Stan Dickman.  "Each year we're amazed that the quality of the people that the Twins Camp attracts and this year was certainly no exception.  We want to sincerely thank all of our campers for an incredible week and for making the experience so memorable for our entire staff.  Thanks also to our incredible Pro Staff - the best in baseball, for their enthusiasm and support of our campers throughout the week.  I think everyone felt that the addition of Greg, Mickey and Dave as coaches  certainly "fit" with the camp's culture."

With the temporary move to the "Plex", a few minor decor adjustments needed to be made to "Minnesotarize" the former Red Sox facility.  Here a 6'x 6' Twins Camp banner welcomes our 2014 campers to their clubhouse home for the week.

Finally, we wish to thank our support team for making the absolute best of a challenging situation of operating in a new home.  Chad Yoder was nothing short of spectacular in his preparation for camp week and ensuring the success of our 2014 camp.  The trainers, Kelli Quist, Chef George, our field staff - all did an incredible job in delivering on our goal of making this a truly big league experience for our campers.  Thank you all!  We certainly look forward enthusiastically to returning to the Lee County complex in 2015 and witnessing the facility enhancements that are currently being made.

Sat, Oct 19th, 2013

Max Bats - Twins Camp "Team Up" for Camper Discounts

The Twins Fantasy Camp is thrilled to again be partnering with Minnesota's premier bat company - Max Bats, in securing a discount on bats, accessories and apparel for our campers through their website.

Anyone registered for the 2014 Camp can simply go to www.maxbats.com/special/TwinsFantasy to shop.  Simply enter the Password (case sensitive) OLIVA.

Once the web page is accessed (after entering the password), campers can simply peruse the Max Bat website like any other visitor to their site.  However, special pricing will be featured on almost every product that Max Bats produces or sells.

"While we do provide wood bats for camp play, some campers have found it convenient to select and bring their own bats with them to camp", commented Camp Director, Stan Dickman.  "Working with Jim Anderson and his incredible team at Max Bats has allowed us the opportunity to pass along savings on their products to our campers.  Max Bats are being used by literally hundreds of Major League and Minor League players, which certainly speak volumes to the quality of their products".

The site is currently live, and will be accessible until 1 month prior to the start of the Twins Camp.  So if you're interested - Don't delay.  Visit Max Bats today!

We wish to thank Jim and the team at Max Bats for working with our campers again this year!

Sat, Oct 19th, 2013

Mickey Hatcher is Newest Camp Pro Staff Member

The Minnesota Twins Baseball Fantasy Camp is excited to announce the addition of former Twins fan favorite, Mickey Hatcher to the 2014 Twins Camp Pro Staff.

Mickey Hatcher

A native of Cleveland, Ohio, Mickey attended the University of Oklahoma where he played both football and baseball.  He was drafted twice (in '74 in the 12th round by the Houston Astros, and in 1976 in the 2nd round by the New York Mets) before signing with the Dodgers in 1977 when he was selected in the 5th round of the June draft.  He made his MLB debut on August 3, 1979 for the Dodgers where he subbed for then Dodger 3rd baseman, Ron Cey.  On March 30, 1981 he was traded by the Dodgers, along with two other minor league players, to the Twins for veteran outfielder, Ken Landreaux.

He played for the Twins from 1981-86, hitting .284 in 672 games and then returned to the Dodgers as a free agent in 1987.  He hit two home-runs in the 1988 World Series to help his Dodgers to their World Series Championship.

Mickey is admired for his fun loving approach to playing baseball, particularly on the World Champion 1988 Dodger team.  During that season, he was featured in various  presentations to the tune of the "Mickey Mouse Club" song.  Hatcher was famously portrayed in the 1986 Fleer and 1991 Upper Deck baseball cards with his "giant glove".

After his career as an active player, Mickey transitioned into coaching, starting with the Texas Rangers in 1994.  He also worked as a coach at various positions with the Dodgers organization.   In the middle of the 2000 season, Mickey was named the hitting coach for the Los Angeles Angels by manager and his former teammate, Mike Scioscia.

"I'm excited to have been invited to join the Twins Fantasy Camp Staff", said Mickey.  I'm looking forward to seeing some of my former teammates and spending time with the friends that I made during my years with the Twins.  I know we'll have some fun!"

Welcome to the Twins Camp Mickey!

The Minnesota Twins Baseball Fantasy Camp is excited to announce the addition of former Twins fan favorite, Mickey Hatcher to the 2014 Twins Camp Pro Staff.

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