The Athletics' 2024 Fantasy Camp registration opened up this weekend to the public. Most fans of the organization (including you, reading this now) might have heard of this annual event, but likely have no idea what kind of opportunity and effort this is from the team.
In 20-plus years working in broadcasting, I’ve been fortunate to observe a lot of what happens “behind closed doors” in sports.
Even with that background, my first visit to A’s Fantasy Camp ranks among the top experiences. Back in January, the A’s invited me for six days to their team headquarters in Mesa, Ariz.
It’s a perfect opportunity to host six teams worth of fantasy “campers," ages 21 and over, who will play doubleheaders almost every day.
The campers will play on perfectly maintained fields, wearing major-league uniforms, with breakfast and lunches fully catered. Plus, there will be an organized Happy Hour back at the hotel.
Teams will have access to a full-service clubhouse, which includes access to the A’s trainers. (That last part will be important, later)
Sure, the MLB-caliber facilities are impressive for those of us who haven’t hit a curveball since High School. But the real treat is the people. The A’s cut zero corners in the experience, with everybody and every last detail receiving personal attention from the team staff.
My NBC Sports California colleagues, Dallas Braden and Shooty Babitt, are the default leaders of the coaching contingent. Complimented by the likes of Dave Stewart, Bobby Crosby, Greg Cadaret, Adam Rosales, and A’s hitting coach Tommy Everidge.
Each team has a tandem of managers, with Terry Steinbach and Carney Lansford as skippers of my squad. No pressure, right? But really there is no pressure.
Campers of all backgrounds, abilities, and experience levels are well accommodated. The camaraderie and friendships that will be built here in just one week are what exist well past the championship game.
A’s Fantasy Camp does come at a cost, but it’s safe to proclaim you do “get what you pay for." All donations are tax-deductible to the A’s Community Fund, which gives back more than $500,000 per year to important causes around Oakland and the East Bay.
To register, visit the A's Fantasy Camp website HERE
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Oh yeah, about the trainers…
I pulled a hamstring on my very first day. In my first game. In my very first at-bat. All of this just to leg out an infield single and impress Carney Lansford. A “worst case” scenario that actually turned into multiple positives. I got to experience the A’s trainers first-hand, who had me back hitting after just one day. And I got to meet a lot of fellow campers who also were regulars in the training room.
My advice: Sign up today, start stretching in November, and I’ll see you in January 2024!