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Fri, Jan 23rd, 2015

Twins Camp 2015 - the Most Competitive in History!

The 2015 Twins Camp Pro Staff

Pictured - front row (left to right): Mickey Hatcher, Stew Cliburn, Milt Cuyler, Steve Braun, Tony Oliva, Julio Becquer, Lee Stange, Gene Larkin, Frank Quilici & Dick Stigman. Back Row: Eric Rasmussen, Bill Campbell, Juan Berenguer, Rick Aguilera, Phil Roof, Bert Blyleven, Frank Viola, Greg Gagne, Tim Laudner, Tom Brunansky & Kent Hrbek.

Every Twins Fantasy Camp seems to take on it's own personality.  The 2015 edition was no exception and will be remembered as the most competitive in camp history.  This year's camp was again a sell-out and featured 8 camp teams - any of which could have been playing for the camp championship on Saturday afternoon.  The Twins camp again boasted the finest Pro Staff among the MLB team fantasy camps - with many of the club's legends in attendance.  While we missed annual Pro Staff member, Ron Coomer who was busy with the annual Cubs Fest this year - we welcomed two new members to this year's staff.  Joining us in 2015 were former Twin All-Star candidate, Steve Braun and former California Angel pitcher and current Twins AA pitching coach, Stew Cliburn.  Both were hailed by campers as great additions to the team.

The 2015 camp will also be remembered for attracting a camper from the other side of the world.  Bud Bromley of Australia made the trip to Florida to participate, and was rewarded for his trek by being a member of the Camp Championship team Warriors.  In total,16 states and the District of Columbia were represented at this year's camp.  Campers from Minnesota, Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Virginia, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, California, Georgia and Florida participated.

Camp week again kicked off with registration and the Welcome Reception at the camp's hotel headquarters - the Crowne Plaza at the Bell Tower Shops.  Baseball activities began on Sunday morning with former "Rolaids Relief" pitcher of the year, Bill Campbell, along with Twins Rehab Specialist, Lanning Tucker taking the campers through some "on field" stretching activities.  Stretching was followed by the morning instructionals from the camp's Pro Staff.  This year, the campers were divided into four work groups and assigned to a specific field.  There they were coached on the fine points of outfield and infield play, as well as extensive "on-field" hitting in the cage.  Pitchers and catcher then reported for a 40 minute tutorial from pitching greats Bert Blyleven and Frank Viola, who were joined by pitching coaches Lee Stange and Stew Cliburn.  Tim Laudner and Phil Roof worked with the catchers in camp.

With the exception of a brief afternoon shower on Monday, the week featured outstanding baseball weather, with temperatures ranging from the mid 60's to upper 70's all week.  Saturday's Championship games were played under a cloudless Florida sky with temperatures in the mid 70's - a truly picturesque day!  Due to the conclusion of Phase II of the Hammond Stadium remodeling, this year's Championship games were moved to the newest field in the Century Link Sports Complex - Field #8.  Field 8 was built to the exact dimensions of Target Field and the outfield padding that had formerly hung at Target, has been installed on Field 8 giving it a "Big League" aura.  Again this year, family and friends could tune in to a live web broadcast from the MSBN network.  Nick Walsh and the MSBN team received many e-mails during the broadcast.  Bud Bromley had commented that his fiance and friends back in Australia were able to watch him in action during the Pro-Camper game on Friday, as well as during the Championship game in which he participated.

2015 Camp Rookie, Jim Stearns poses with wife, Renee and his daughter between camp pool play games.

The Twins Camp is truly a family affair and it was no different in 2015.  This year's camp featured two "Father-Daughter" combinations with Jon & Jessalyn Weaver and Eric and Ali Nelson.  There were also several "Father-Son" combinations in camp, including: Doug & Tarron Borgeson, Mark & Marty Davis, Doug & Derek Doescher, Kevin Marden Sr. & Jr., Paul & Joe Sampson and Bob & Pat Sutherland. Throw in two brother acts with the Gracheks and Hinnenkamps and you begin to get a sense of how baseball is still a central part of these camper's lives.   We are also thrilled to have so many spouses, significant others, friends and relatives join their camper - at the ballpark and at our evening banquets.  Again this year we estimate that approximately 40% of the campers were accompanied by someone special in their life.

The Camp's theme in 2015 was the celebration of the 1965 Minnesota Twins American League Champions and the club's first ever representatives in Major League Baseball's World Series.  We have been fortunate at the Twins Camp, to have had many of those great Twins as members of the camp's Pro Staff. Twins greats that have joined us at camp over the years have included such legends as Harmon Killebrew, Jim Kaat, Jim "Mudcat" Grant, Earl Battey, Dave Boswell and Don Mincher.  We were fortunate to have with us in 2015, key 1965 team members Tony Oliva, Frank Quilici and Dick Stigman.  Following dinner at Friday night's banquet, the campers joined these three greats in viewing a highlights video and some "Q&A" on the 1965 World Series versus the Los Angeles Dodgers.

We were thrilled to be back at the Twins facilities this year, and those facilities are among the best in all of baseball.  The camp wishes to thank to the Minnesota Twins and their staff - particularly the Training Staff led by Larry Bennese and Lanning Tucker, along with the Lee County Parks & Recreation team for their efforts in making the Twins Camp among the best in baseball.  We continue to be amazed by the passion and love of the game that our incredible group of Twins Legends bring to this experience - without question - the best in baseball!  We wish also to extend out sincere thanks to our Clubhouse team led by Chad Yoder with his assistants Joe Dibenedetto and Wayne Hattaway, Food service team of George Serra and Reno Dickman, field equipment specialist - Matt Galewski and our administrative team of Jay Harris, Rose Lundeen, Gina Serra and Marsha Dickman - all teamed up to create a seem-less week of baseball and making memories.

Finally, and most importantly, we wish to thank our campers!  The incredible rookie class we welcomed in 2015, along with a truly remarkable group of veteran campers, made for one of the most enjoyable and memorable weeks in camp history.  We can't begin to thank you enough for that!  We hope all of you will consider joining us again next year, or a future Twins Fantasy Camp!

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