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July 05, 2005 - Image 85

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2005-07-05

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

■ •III • ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ III •
• ■ • ■ • ■ • ■ • ■ • ■ IS • ■ •

• ■ • • ■ ■ WI • III ■ • ■ ■ ■ • III •

Bagels - Homemade Cream Cheese - Deli - Sandwiches

• • • • • • • • • II • • •

from page 49

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With Coupon - Exp. 7/31/05
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"He never looked at me when I was
in his office," says Lewis, "and my
For plumbing supply owner Barry
heart was sinking. Then his secretary
Levine, 60, of Franklin, it was watch-
came in saying he had a phone call.
ing his son, Jordan, 23, of Berkley,
He waved at her that he would take it
playing ball again "just like it was
later and told me to keep talking.
when he was back in Little League."
That's when I knew we really had
"The players are wonderful," says
Lewis. "They understand how these
"He gave us permission to use the
guys feel and it's like they're letting
uniforms and cleared the way for
them in on this wonderful, secret
using Henley Field, the old spring
brotherhood. Willie Horton barbe-
training ballpark.
cues at every session. Mickey Lolich
"J.P. McCarthy gave us a slot on his
gives pitching instruction. They tell
old 'Focus' show on WJR Radio. It
stories from when they were playing.
was supposed to be for just a few
It's a magical thing."
minutes, but he ended up keeping us
Several teams run similar camps.
on for 45. By the time we got off the
The Tigers were not the first. But
air we had 100 phone calls. Harvey
they are far and away the most suc-
Saperstein, who has been at every one
of our camps, told me he was so
More than 200 "campers" already
excited he had to pull off the road to
have signed up for the 2006 sessions,
make the call. This was before cell
at $3,295 a pop. Lewis is also in
phones, of course."
charge of the All-Star Game fantasy
Lewis went to Florida the first time
camp, run by Major League Baseball,
with 82 campers, and the program
next Sunday, Monday and Tuesday at
has grown from there. For the last
Comerica Park.
eight years, he has been employed by
"It started almost as a spur of the
the ball club to run the camps.
moment thing," he says. "My friend,
"Women, kids, older guys who
Barry Grant, saw an article about the
could barely walk," he says, "they all
Chicago Cubs running a fantasy
come to our camp and they all take
camp in 1983 and wondered why I
away something great."
couldn't do something like that.
For painting contractor Lenny
"I was a baseball crazy kid. I'd
Malach of West Bloomfield, it was
grown up on stories about Hank
the desire to play ball again on a reg-
Greenberg, although my dad was a
ular basis. "I got into a seniors league
Cleveland fan because Al Rosen
after my first camp and I'm still play-
played there. When Jim Bunning
ing in it after my fourth camp," he
pitched his no-hitter against Boston
in 1957, and got Ted Williams for the
Even Jordan Levine, just out of the
last out, we watched it together and
University of Michigan, found out
we both were crying."
"how much I missed the game and
Lewis grew up at Temple Beth El.
starting going back to batting cages to
He and his wife, Ellen, now are mem- get the feel of it again."
bers of Temple Israel.
"It's like an alumni group," says
"Jim Price and I were friends from
Lewis. "We have an awards banquet
when we both worked at Mich Con,"
every year, a fantasy camp hall of
he says. "So I told him that, if he
fame. The highlight is when the
could get the players, I'd do the
campers play the former Tigers. You
organization and raise the money for
just have to look at their faces."
the first camp. I actually had no idea
It counters that terrible moment
what the response , ev ould be."
years ago when we learned that we
First, he had to talk his way past
could not hit the curveball or that
the gatekeeper, Jim Campbell. He was our fastball maxed out at 75 miles an
the Tigers' president then and a
hour. Yes, dreams die hard. But some
down-the-line baseball man who did-
fantasies survive, making it through
n't believe in a lot of fancy promo-
the years to lighten the hearts of us
tions to sell the game or in indiscrim- ao ino- children.
b b
inate use of the Tigers brand.


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Sun. 7:00am-2:00pm
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7/ 7





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