It doesn’t take arm-twisting to convince former Major League Baseball stars to sign up for the Do It 4 Derek Steve Woodard Baseball Camp.
“They are asking to come back. [Mike] Caldwell asked why he didn’t get asked back. Jeff D’Amico is still ticked at me. These guys want to come back,” Steve Lendosky said. “These guys want to keep coming back and you kind of don’t want to let them down and say, ‘I know you have come here the last few years, are you sure you want to keep coming back?’ But at the same time, we need to freshen it up too with some new people.”
New to the roster of coaches this year is Scott Karl, who played for the Milwaukee Brewers, Colorado Rockies and Anaheim Angels. The southpaw pitched in 178 games and struck out 513 batters.
Camp will return to Fennimore July 24-25 and July 26-27, and is scheduled for 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. each day. 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.
Registration is appreciated by July 18.
“That way we can get their T-shirts ordered and have everything ready to go,” Lendosky said. “Obviously we will take registrations after that, but a T-shirt cannot be guaranteed.”
Joining Karl will be returning coaches Jim Gantner, Pete Ladd, Cecil Cooper, Greg Vaughn, Paul Wagner, Willie Mueller and Woodard. Ganter, Ladd, Cooper and Woodard are returning to Fennimore for a third summer. Vaughn, Wagner and Mueller each made their debut last summer.
Clarissa Waltz-U’Ren will return to share her softball expertise with campers, along with 13 assistant coaches, including Rick Place, Brent Sheckler, Adam Day and Chad Fry.
“Clarissa does a wonderful job,” Lendosky said. “She had rave reviews last year.”
Four camp scholarships remain available. Pastor William “Bud” Budzinski donated two, as did Larry and Jeri Novinska. Joe Grimme donated two as well. To nominate a camper for a scholarship, contact Lendosky.
As was the case the previous two summers, special events are slated for each evening of camp.
A Pros vs. Joes celebrity softball game is planned for 7 p.m. on July 24 at Derek Lendosky Community Field in Fennimore’s Business Park. This year’s game will be nine innings, as requested by the Pros. Joining the pros will be former Wisconsin Badgers stars Bradie Ewing and Josh Gasser, and two-time Olympic softball player Erin White (Canada).
“I am actually looking forward to watching Erin play. She is 150 percent ball of energy,” Lendosky said. “We will just let her play shortstop and let her be crazy. We will let her and Woodard fight over who plays short. She is intense.
“Hopefully we get a lot of kids to come out and watch, and a lot of girls to watch and see how hard Erin plays. She is actually physically getting ready for the game right now.”
A Home Run Derby will follow the game. Wagner is the defending champion. A fireworks display by Kastner Pyrotechnics will cap off the evening.
A hot commodity last summer, bags of baseball cards will be sold at the Pros vs. Joes game. More than 60 cards are included in each bag. Also sold will be Brewers-only bags of cards, which may include randomly inserted autographed cards.
New in 2017 will be a Concert in the Park, on the Grid-Iron football field in the Business Park. Gates will open at 3:30 p.m. on July 25 for the 7 p.m. concert.
“Steve Woodard and I went hunting in Missouri in October. As we were sitting there, a couple of the guys had mentioned while they were here at camp, they ask the same questions every year at the Q & A session,” Lendosky said. “And I’m like, well yeah, but they are different people. The Q & A is my favorite part. It is not even close. I love listening to these guys and their stories. It is pretty cool.
“Well, Woodard said, ‘Why don’t we try doing a concert of some kind?’ Woodard has all these connections down south, a lot of them are hard rock and country, kind of a mix. Country is big around here so we started that process of seeing if we could do a concert. We weighed the goods and the bads. The purpose of this is not just for our Foundation, but the Grid-Iron puts an awful lot of work in with the concession stands and this is a huge fundraiser for them.”
Alex Smith and Broseph E. Lee are the acts for the inaugural Do It 4 Derek Concert in the Park. Smith began writing country music after his dreams of playing collegiate baseball were dashed. Broseph E. Lee has toured with Florida Georgia Line and Lady Antebellum.
“We wanted to try something a little different. My goal is to put as many smiles on as many faces as possible and to bring things and experiences to Fennimore that these people in this community might not ever get to do or see,” Lendosky said. “How many kids across the country can say they have met former major league baseball players?
“Brandy’s and my goal was to bring something affordable, new and family friendly. I think $15 a ticket is pretty stinking cheap. I think you are going to have a great family evening sitting out on the football field in a lawn chair listening to country music for three hours. So we decided on a concert and started that process.”
Lendosky admits ticket sales have been less than brisk.
“I am finding out that nobody buys tickets. I know people keep saying they are going to be coming and buying tickets, which is great, I appreciate that, but there is an awful lot of planning that goes into making sure we have enough food and beverage,” he said. “If the Grid-Iron thinks they are going to have 1,000 people show up and only 250 show up, they get stuck with that.
“It would be nice, if people are going to go, that they buy their tickets so we can plan accordingly.”
After a strong debut last summer, Tower Junction in Montfort will host an 8-pin Tap Tournament at 6:30 p.m. on July 26.
“Tower Junction gets into this too. They love this,” Lendosky said. “Tower Junction is going to have a beer frame. Each lane will have its own beer frame, all eight. If your pro throws a pure strike in the beer frame, Tower Junction will buy a round of drinks for the entire team.”
Raffles and a silent auction will also be part of the Tournament festivities. Bowling pins signed by the Pros will return as well.
The ever-popular 18-hole golf tournament at Hickory Grove Golf Course will bring the festivities to a close on July 27.
“It is funny to listen to these guys,” Lendosky said. “The people that are golfing in it are already talking about who they are going to be bidding on and who they think they will have a chance to get. They are game planning for it already.”
Last summer’s camp raised thousands for local initiatives. All proceeds are returned to the Derek Lendosky Memorial Fund. As a result, scholarships were awarded in the Fennimore, Iowa-Grant and Wauzeka-Steuben school districts.
“I am interested to see how the concert goes,” Lendosky said. “I still like sitting around with the guys at the events. I love watching the kids and watching how they are treated and how excited they get during camp.
“It is always nice to be able to tell the story again in a positive way. Not the bad part of the story, just the part of the story where we are doing things to make people smile here.”