Phillies Phantasy Camp a hit with Burke--Liberty USO sponsors Pa. NG members to play in big leagues

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Christopher Botzum
  • 111th FW Public Affairs
       Senior Master Sgt. Roger Burke, supply supervisor with the 111th Fighter Wing, returned here mid- January after a 5-day trip competing with fellow Phillies fans in their annual Phillies Phantasy Camp held in Pinellas, Fla.
       The camp brings baseball enthusiasts together to authentically suit-up and play competitive, yet friendly baseball, coached by former Philadelphia Phillies players. Approximately 130 campers were drafted into 10 teams and played two 7-inning games against each other over the course of the event.
       The Liberty USO of Philadelphia announced in December 2012 and sponsored two Pa. National Guardsmen, Burke and Army Staff Sgt. Barton Hartzell, training non-commissioned officer with the 56th Stryker Brigade Combat Team Headquarters, to participate in this year's camp. 
       "The experience was overwhelming," said an energised Burke. "I'll have those memories for a lifetime!"
       At the end of the event, Burke was awarded the 2013 Phantasy Camp Golden Glove award.
       "We had to compete for our positions in the field. Initially we were rotated until our coaches placed us in positions to be most competitive. No one escaped pitching duties though. That 60- foot distance to the plate wears you down. I more or less served it up", said Burke.
       Burke's team was coached by Phillies shortstop, Kevin Stocker of the 1993 World Series Champion team and lefty-relief pitcher, Rheal Cormier of the 2001 - 2006 Phillies. 
       "It was certainly a diverse group. Our catcher was 60-years-old. Most of our players were from the Philly area, but two were from Australia," he said. "The only game our team won was pitched by a 78-year-old who ran a 5-inning, 1-run game."
       "One of the things that really broke the ice for me at the onset was something Stocker told me during a hitting slump I was in. He said, 'Thank goodness it's not hitting that defends our county.'"