Not long after Steve Woodard began his journey back to Alabama following last summer’s Rob Deer Baseball Camp, plans were being made for this summer’s sequel.
“As soon as camp got done last year we started working on this year’s,” Steve Lendosky said. “We took the suggestions from a couple of the coaches that were here and some from the people that were here to try to make it better.”
One of the results is four days of camp, which will begin Monday, July 25. Camp will be held from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. July 25-28.
“That was their request,” Lendosky said. “[The coaches] wanted some time in the community.”
Joining Woodard at the Steve Woodard Baseball Camp will be returning coaches Cecil Cooper, Jim Gantner, Pete Ladd and Jon Lieber.
“Jon was going to be out of the country. He was going to be overseas at some academy,” Lendosky said. “Then when he read about Rob Deer being unavailable this year he actually contacted Woodard and said, ‘Hey, my plans have changed, can I come back and coach?’ He really wanted to coach in the first place. He had a good time here in Fennimore last year, apparently.”
New additions to the coaching lineup are Greg Vaughn, Mike Caldwell, Paul Wagner and Willie Mueller.
“Steve has worked with Willie and Paul,” Lendosky said. “We were trying to find a replacement for Deer and we were also looking for one more coach. We thought it would be nice to have eight again. We have an eight-team 8-Pin Tap Tournament and it would be nice to have eight coaches.
“Willie and Paul, they are both from Wisconsin here. So Steve said we will split them up, two games apiece. Paul comes for the first two days and Willie comes for the second two. It’s nice to get some new faces.”
Registration for the two-day camp is $100. If a camper would like to attend an additional two days, they may do so for $50. Registration for the camp remains open until July 18. Those interested can register at doit4derek.com. Campers ages six through 18 are welcome.
“We would like to have numbers by July 18 so we know what to expect,” Lendosky said. “I can take another 100 campers. We have eight professionals and 10 assistants, so we have 18 coaches. We can take well over 100.”
As was the case last summer, special events will be held each evening of camp.
Two celebrity softball games will be held at Derek Lendosky Community Field on Monday night. A home run derby will be held prior to the second contest.
“We have 16 sponsors and everybody kind of wanted to play so we decided to make it a doubleheader,” Steve Lendosky said. “The nice thing will be there will be a bunch of different people that will be out there that weren’t in last year’s games. It will be nice to see that.
“Suppz is sponsoring both softball teams and they created a new logo, just for the softball games, which is pretty cool. Both teams will have different T-shirts, of course.”
Gregg, Mitch and Trent Davis will be joined by Emily Blackbourn to sing the national anthem prior to the first game. First pitch is scheduled for 6:30 p.m.
Kastners Pyrotechnics light up the skies with a fireworks display following the second softball game.
“They are doing labor part for free, we are just buying the fireworks,” Steve Lendosky said. “It will be a 15 to 20-minute show. I am looking forward to that.
“Hopefully the residents of Fennimore will know we are having a firework show so they aren’t freaked out.”
The Grid-Iron Club will be staffing concession stands throughout camp and will begin serving at 5 p.m. on Monday afternoon.
SafeRide will be provided on Monday evening.
“People should realize that we request that they be safe and SafeRide is there for them to utilize,” Steve Lendosky said.
In the days to come raffle tickets will be sold to offer the winner a chance to pinch-hit or pinch-run in one of the celebrity softball games.
A Night with the Pros returns on Tuesday night. The unique event, hosted by The Silent Woman, gives fans an opportunity to ask questions of the former MLB stars. The event will be emceed by Lendosky and Woodard.
“This is by far my favorite,” Steve Lendosky said. “I love listening to the guys talk about what it was like when they were playing and all the old stories.
“Teams back in those days were more teams than today. I think you have a lot more individuals today and back then these guys did everything together. That is just my opinion from listening to today’s guys talk about it.”
An autograph signing will follow the question-and-answer session. Each ticket will guarantee one autograph of a trading card, baseball or photo from each guest, with additional autograph opportunities of “big ticket” items available for purchase.
An 8-Pin Tap Bowling Tournament is scheduled for Wednesday night at Tower Junction near Montfort. Eight teams will compete in the new event for 2016, each with its own former major leaguer.
“It is something different,” Steve Lendosky said. “We will do colored pins. They are each going to stand for something different. If you get a strike with them up it will get you a ticket for a chance to win an item.”
An 18-hole golf tournament at Hickory Grove Golf Course will bring the festivities to a close on Thursday.
“These guys wanted to do 18, the ones that were here last year,” Steve Lendosky said.
As was the case last summer, a bidding process will give participants the opportunity to add a former MLB star to their lineup.
“People will want Greg Vaughn on their team,” Steve Lendosky said. “His team shot a 54 at Whistling Straits on Monday. He is a long ball hitter. So is Lieber. I guess Willie is a good golfer as well.”
Last summer’s camp raised approximately $2,500 for local initiatives. All proceeds are returned to the Derek Lendosky Memorial Fund.
“These guys want to keep coming here,” Steve Lendosky said. “It is a lot of work to get it organized and get all the activities planned out for the kids and adults, but it is worth it.”