Monday, September 14, 2015

Phillies Baseball 101 -- August 25, 2015

I have yet to blog about anything that isn't running related so this will be a first.  You might be wondering "baseball?! what's that all about?"  Most people unless you are a family member or close friend, just think of me as crazy runner Amy but really I am crazy baseball Amy at least for most of my life.  Baseball is truly my first passion in life.  I loved it from the second I first held a ball in my hand which was probably the day I was born.  My dad is known by most people as Mr. Baseball.  He has played his whole life and he was good, and I mean really good.  He was all American in high school, recruited for the majors but went to St. Joe's University on baseball scholarship instead where apparently he discovered beer and that's why he didn't end up playing baseball for a living ;-)  After college he did play semi-pro in cape cod and the Pendel League.  In more recent history we were honored to watch him be inducted into the Hall of Fame at his high school and college.  Two of the years that he played at St. Joe's University were the only two years they have ever won a baseball title, no small accomplishment.
Game 5 of the 2008 World Series.  A night I will never forget!

As a little girl I went and watched him play and then eventually he transitioned over to being my coach.  He coached Cindy and I at all different levels of little league, ASA and high school softball.  He has an excellent knowledge of the game and is great at sharing this knowledge with his players.  I'm not just saying this because I'm his daughter.  Most of the teams he coached were extremely successfull including my sister's little league team who came in second at the Little League World Series.  People were still begging for him to coach after Cindy and I were done playing.  Cindy and I also always received compliments from other coaches and spectators of our games about how much we knew the game and truly understood the fundamentals.  A true testament to our dad.  Sometimes when you have a parent who is so into a sport and wants you to love that sport as much as they do, kids can end up hating it.  But that was never the case for us.  Cindy and I have always LOVED baseball and I know we always will.  I have clear memories of not only attending many Phillies games with my family, as my dad of course is a long time season ticket holder, but also watching night after night on tv even when they were at their worst.  We watched no matter what.  And the years I was not old enough to stay up until the end of the games, I would listen to Harry and Richie on the radio as I fell asleep.  Even as an adult there are many nights I have the game on tv.  And now the Spiecker baseball gene has trickled down to the next generation.  Niko not only loves to play but has become an avid Phillies phan as well.  He loves to sit, watch the games and talk baseball.  He knows all about counts, different pitches and positions.  He even requests to listen to the game on the radio in the car and knows what's going on!  It's awesome and I love it! 

Now with that background, I can move on to the purpose of my post.  This past Christmas my dad gave myself, Cindy and my mom the gift of attending Baseball 101.   I didn't really know what that was when he said that's what he got us.  As it turns out it's a women only event hosted by the Phillies at Citizen's Bank Park.  I wasn't sure what to expect going into it but anything that involves spending the day at the ballpark followed by a pre-game party with food and beer followed by the game is a great day to me. 

The three of us arrived to Citizen's Bank Park before the start time of 9:50.  We were greeted excitedly by some ball girls, given the tickets to that night's game and directed to the Diamond Club where a continental breakfast awaited us.  Scott Palmer was our host for the day.  After his warm welcome we were split into teams, we were  Team Asche,  and we went to various sessions.  Our first session was with the clubhouse manager, second was with the strength & conditioning coach followed by the team chef.  All three sessions were very upbeat, super informative and fun.  They were more than willing to share lots of information with us even some personal info about players and routines.  We really got a great sense of what a typical day at the ballpark is like for the players and staff.  On a side note, everyone was also very eager to talk about the Chase Utley trade that had just happened the week before.  It was so nice to hear their personal stories about him and that he truly was the great guy we all thought he was.  Yes, it's no secret I love Chase, but who doesn't?!!?! 
a player locker, he bought an Utley jersey and had him autograph it before he left

strength and conditioning coach
Where the players eat.  My kinda place!
the team cook

The next part of the day took place outside on the actual field of Citizen's Bank Park.  This was by far the highlight of my day.  There were 4 different stations we were going to rotate through: running the bases, fielding, pitching and batting.  Not only were we going to get a chance to try all of these skills but we were going to be doing them with the actual Phillies coaches.  All of the coaches were so happy to be there imparting their knowledge and teaching us skills.  Juan Samuel taught us some signs and explained how he needs to change them when players are traded etc ending his session with a run around the bases.  Next up Larry Bowa and another fielding coach went over fielding grounders, fly balls and how to throw.  We had the opportunity to field and throw with both of them.  After that we went to the Phillies bullpen to work with the pitching coaches.  They showed us different grips and we discussed why pitchers don't throw as many pitches anymore.  Then if we wanted, we had the opportunity to throw a few pitches with them giving feedback.  The final station was inside the stadium in the batting cages.  The hitting coaches talked to us about different player strategies when they are up to bat and answered many of our questions.  Then we all got to take our slugs at the tees.  To say it was a dream come true would be a lie because as a girl, I never once thought I would ever have a chance to practice fielding, pitching and batting in Citizen's Bank Park let alone get running advice from Juan Samuel and field grounders from Larry Bowa, it was a truly wonderful experience. 
Juan Samuel

selfie running the bases
mama joan coming home!
Larry Bowa

in action in the field
I LOVE to play ball!
learning how to grip for different pitches

me hurling

batting in the cages

By this time, we were hungry so luckily it was lunch time in the Diamond Club.  It was a very nice spread.  After everyone got their food.  Scott Palmer entertained us by interviewing the head groundskeeper.  I know they are very particular about the grass and dirt but I learned alot of things I didn't know, for example that they mow AT LEAST once a day!  crazy.  After that was a visit from a surprise player which turned out to be Darin Ruf.  We were pretty sure he wasn't the scheduled player but he handled it well.  He took all the harrassing from the ladies with grace and was great to listen to life as a ballplayer from his point of view.
Darin Ruf
The final sessions of the day took place in the press conference room.  We had sessions with a major league umpire, Reuben Amaro and the voices of Phillies radio, Scott, Larry and Jim.  All 3 sessions were very informative well with the exception of the broadcastors ;-)  haha But the afternoon was very entertaining and so much fun.  There's so much more to the game than meets the eye which I knew but I didn't know all the nitty, gritty details that they shared with us.  And as he did all day long, Scott Palmer did a great job guiding the conversations and asked questions that he knew we all wanted to know the answers to.  I can't say enough about what a critical piece he was to the success of this event.

Rheuben Amaro
the three stoogies

Finally our day of Baseball 101 was over but the party was just getting started.  As we left, we were handed our goody bags and shirts.  We went out to right field for the Phillies batting practice which normally is closed to the public.  It was fun to be a part of their pre-game rituals.  Some of the players in the outfield were interacting with us and throwing balls up into the stand.  I myself actually caught a couple balls that Ryan Howard hit out to us :-)  From there we headed out to some tents that were set up for us for free food and drinks.  While we sat back, ate and relaxed, a few celebrities joined in the fun.  The Phanatic, the Bull and my favorite former player and broadcaster Sarge!  We got pictures and autographs before we headed in for the game.  The seats that were reserved for the Baseball 101 crowd were great in the 100 level, perfect view of the field.
batting practice

free beer is always good

best mascot ever

The Bull

Selfie with Sarge!

view from our seats for the game
When it was time to go home, all three of us talked the whole way home about all our favorite parts of the day and how much fun we had.  We called my dad on speaker phone and thanked him profusely for getting this for us.  We told him all about our day and Mr. Baseball himself said "This sounds like something I would really like myself!"  You definitely would dad but sorry Ladies Only!!! 
selfie with Tug McGraw in the background, mom's favorite player

I just want to say thank you to the Phillies organization for putting together such a wonderful event!  We might be at the bottom of the standings but I think the organization as a whole does a lot of things right and provides some great opportunities for their phans.  And to be honest, before attending I haven't been paying as much attention as I usually do to the Phillies and what they are up to just because there hasn't been much to be happy about but after hearing the enthusiasm of where the club is headed and the changes they are making and just being part of the major league for one day really re-energized my love for the game and for my team. 

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing. I've often wondered what happened at those 101 camps. Sounds like a great day.