‘Giants Fantasy Camp’
Oakdale man lives a dream
By JACK CARREROW
The Oakdale (Calif.) Leader
Frank Weishaar, a 55-year-old Oakdale resident has something in common with San Francisco Giants’ star Barry Bonds. They’ve both won Most Valuable Player honors while in the uniform of the Giants. While Bonds won his MVP during a six-month season that saw his team go to the World Series, Weishaar picked up his honor- after only one week of playing down in Scottsdale, Arizona.
For the past few years, Weishaar, a retiree, has attended the “Giants Fantasy Camp,” an event sponsored by the team that allows people 30 and over to live the life of major league ballplayer for a week. “I really love to play baseball and I like the Giants, have for years. This is a great way to live out a dream,” said Weishaar, who was one of 96 participants in the camp in late January.
It’s not just the chance to play at a major league facility that draws campers from every walk of life, there’s also the opportunity to meet and play with some of the past stars that have taken the field in the orange and black.
“It was great. I got to play against Mike McCormick, Joel Youngblood and Gary Lavelle,” he said. McCormick was the 1967 Cy Young Award winner; Youngblood was an outfielder from the eighties; and Lavelle was a Giant closer in the 1970-80’s.
Although most of the former players have seen better days, there are times when their competitive nature takes over.
“I struck out one time and it was against Lavelle. He threw me a fastball on the first pitch and then had me swinging at two big curves,” said Weishaar. Even with the strikeout, Weishaar’s stats for the week of games proved to be quite impressive.
“My batting average was .650. I was 13 for 20, including eight singles, three triples and two doubles. The triples were the toughest. I don’t run like I used too,” said Weishaar, with a smile.
Asked why he goes to the camp, this being his fourth time, Weishaar answered, “The camaraderie. All these people love baseball like I do and it’s great to catch up with the friends you’ve made at other camps.” Of course, some of Weishaar’s friends from past camps failed to show this year. “Here I was, looking forward to renewing old acquaintances and only one person, a woman I’d met at a previous camp, showed up. Of course I figured she would, she’s the granddaughter of Horace Stonham.” She said that Stonham, along with his father, Charles, owned the Giants when they were in New York. “It was Horace Stonham who moved the team to San Francisco after the 1957 season,” she explained.
Asked how the rigors of playing two games a day for a week, affected his 55-year-old body, Weishaar said, “Actually, I never had to see the trainer. Sometimes, in the morning, I’d be a little sore, but after stretching I’d feel fine. Not wanting to be labeled, “All hit, no field,” Weishaar said that he was no slouch when it came to playing shortstop. “I couldn’t believe it. It was like my glove was a magnet and the ball was steel. I couldn’t miss. I even had one of the pros question I wasn’t actually Rich Aurelia in disguise,” he said noting that Aurelia is the current Giant shortstop.
Weishaar’s week was not only one that saw his team finish first, he was also honored with his team’s MVP. “I had no idea. They didn’t announce it until the banquet on the last night. I was surprised and thrilled,” said Weishaar. Weishaar said that everything about the camp was major league. “It was great to just hang around the lobby of the hotel and talk to the pros and the other campers. They offer you a lot of tips and they’re just nice guys, no pretense,” said Weishaar. Like a lot of the campers who attend the camp at an earlier age, Weishaar, who attended his first camp at the age of 39, might have had dreams of being discovered by a scout “Now,” he said, “I just go to have fun. I may have thought about it years ago and I’m sure some of the younger guys still do. Now, I’m just happy to play and I’m glad I still can.” He plays in a league in the area
As for future plans, Weishaar is hoping to return next year so his team can defend their championship. “I told my wife, Terri, that now that we’ve won, I’ll have to come back to defend it. She just looked at me and said ‘It could happen.’ Of course, she made the hotel reservations for next year,” Weishaar said. Weishaar also has advice for anyone who’s considered attending a camp. “If you love baseball, you have to do this. It’s something you’ll remember your whole life. Believe me.”