Ever wonder what it would be like to play for a Major League baseball team? Boston Red Sox fans flocked to Southwest Florida in January to live out that dream at the team’s annual fantasy camp.
More than 250 campers from all over—all across the US and even from Canada—joined in throughout three camps in the past few weeks. They played baseball at JetBlue Park and were even trained by former Red Sox players.
“From your locker room with your nameplate, and your home and away uniform, and your undergarments and everything ready waiting for you, access to the ex-players, the pros… it’s tremendous,” said John Monahan.
Monahan is a veteran camper who traveled all the way from North Carolina. He’s a big baseball fan and Red Sox fan, and for 2023 he was able to share what he calls a once-in-a-lifetime experience—one he has now had 16 times—with his son.
“It’s been a terrific experience to be on the field with him,” Monahan said.
While it’s a lot like the MLB, there are also fun and games to be had: Monahan’s son got him with a pie in the face in the middle of WINK News’ interview, a practice uncommon in the Major League. The age limit to play might be 30, but the camp is a chance to feel like a kid again.
Players on the field at Red Sox Fantasy Camp in January 2023. Credit: WINK News
It was Neil Allen’s first year joining the Red Sox Fantasy Camp. He grew up in Massachusetts but now lives in Cape Coral.
“Interacting with the former players, they’ve been amazing,” Allen said. “They just, like the rest of us, they want to just have fun and get to know us.”
And the former pros coaching the camp say it’s a great experience for them, too.
“I wouldn’t miss it,” said Lenny DiNardo, camp coach and former Red Sox pitcher. “I’ve had so many friends, not only the guys that I played with but the campers that come here year after year.”
“It’s special to me because we get to see the guys that we played with back in the day,” said Manny Delcarmen, camp manager and former Red Sox pitcher. “And all the pros come out and hang out because you really don’t get enough time to hang out in the off-season.”
The Red Sox Fantasy Camp’s championship game is Friday night at 6 p.m. If you want to participate, there is always next January.