Campers Kept in Check at Fantasy Camp

“I think we were set up.”

That’s how camper Nino Lipari began describing the “Kangaroo Court” session from the third day of the Royals 2007 Fantasy Camp. Nino’s story of the suspected “set up” went on to involve a plastic baseball, a pre-game throwing session, the opposing coaches finding out and “The Warden” handing down a team fine of $2 per camper.

“We still don’t know how that plastic ball ended up in our ball bag,” Nino said from Surprise, Ariz. “But, we had to pay for it regardless.”

The mock judicial hearing known as Kangaroo Court is one of the daily rituals of Fantasy Camp. Unlike years past, this year’s court hearings are conducted by a judge known simply as “The Warden” as opposed to a collection of Royals alumni, who serve as the camp coaches. Only three days into camp and the fines have already been generously dished out with the charges ranging from tripping and falling during a game to missing belt loops on the uniforms.

“One camper, who I won’t name, took some water out to the umps during the game yesterday,” Nino added. “Although, normally that would be considered nice, it doesn’t happen in real baseball. So, ‘The Warden’ slapped him with a $4 fine for ‘Kissing up to the Umpires’ – $2 per ump!”

As the Fantasy Camp enters the halfway mark for the week, the fines aren’t the only things getting steeper. Nino, who is a veteran Fantasy Camp camper attending his fifth straight camp and fourth in Surprise, has noticed that the competition between the teams is growing as well. But, that’s how the 47-year-old contractor, who is a co-owner of J & N Utilities in Blue Springs, Mo., prefers it.

“This is the only week of the year that I put on a uniform and play baseball,” said Nino, although he does coach both of his daughters’ softball teams. “I like the fact that when we are out there on that field, we are really playing the game. It’s still always fun and pretty exciting to think you are playing with your childhood heroes, but it’s also great that it is treated as a competitive baseball game.”

Unfortunately, the competitiveness of the games this year is leaving Nino’s team “The Brew Dogs” in a bit of a bind.

“Don’t ask about our record,” said Nino, laughing about his team coached by alumni Greg Pryor, Les Norman and Jaime Bluma. “We are the defending champs from last year and everyone is out to get us.”

Yikes – sounds like it’s a good thing “The Warden” isn’t handing out fines for losses.

1 Comment

My Father is Tony Levato. He and my mother Barbara have alot of great things to say about Les Norman. My dad scouted him and I think he may have played a part in him being signed to the Royals. My mom brought his name up a couple of days ago and said something about Art Stuart and him. Art, Donna Stuart and my parents have been friends for a long while. She mentioned the fantasy camp and I did not know what it was. I took some time to look it up. This camp makes alot of people feel good for a real long time. It leaves them with a lot of stories to tell and memories to keep. Kathryn Levato-Seagrove

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