– Jupiter, Florida: Many years ago, Jack Buck wrote a poem about baseball and the connection from the game between a father and his children. “I don’t know about you,” he said, in his deep, booming voice as he read to the crowd at Busch Stadium. “I’d do anything to have one more catch with my Dad.” The ending was so simple, yet, impactful. Baseball is a game that brings us together. I was reminded of that poem during this year’s “Cardinals Fantasy Camp.”
Steve and Andrew Rosebrough were two participants of the Cardinals Fantasy Camp this past week at Roger Dean Stadium, spring training home of the Cardinals. Like most campers, these brothers were there to enjoy themselves, rub elbows with baseball legends, and take in the sunshine. At least from the surface, that’s what it looked like. Until, during the first daily morning meeting with all the campers, a life-sized, cardboard cutout of their father, Dennis, was present in the room. Why?
It was the winter of 2018. Dennis, then 70, was fighting for his life and laying in a hospital bed. He had been diagnosed with bladder cancer and over the years suffered multiple strokes. The father of six children, a successful businessman, and according to his family, “the biggest Cardinals fan out there,” still had unfinished business. He wanted to be “present” at Cardinals Fantasy Camp one last time with his two boys.
For 49-year-old Steve, baseball is what brought him time with his father. Mom and Dad had divorced when he was three and every other weekend, or, occasionally just once a month, was the time he got to be spend with Dad. The distance became very hard. “When we did get the chance to spend time together,” Steve said, “all of our time was spent at Busch Stadium. It was our father-son thing together. It was Cardinals Baseball.” So, as the years went on, and the distances grew further, father and son found a way to make up for lost time…the Cardinals Fantasy Camp. “It was the camp. That’s where we bonded. We made a point to be there. This is 6 days where we can spend time together. Just the two of us. We can rekindle our father-son relationship and make up for lost time.”
It was while in hospice, Dad grabbed the hands of his two boys and gave his final wish. “I want you go to camp one more time together,” said Steve, with tears rolling down his cheeks. “I want this to be a way that you guys remember me. I want a cutout of me with you boys. I want you to carry it everywhere. It felt like he was there always with us in spirit. Our connection was Cardinals baseball and he was with us.”
So, with the boys, in spirit, Dad and the other campers saw an amazing feat. The boys had decided to dedicate the first game to their late father. With Dad watching from above, Andrew cracked a homerun, the ONLY homerun, hit by either campers or former Cardinal legends during the entire camp. “He was with us,” said Steve. “A 420-foot homerun and the only one of camp. It was pretty powerful.”
Yes, the Fantasy Camp is about baseball but, more importantly, it’s about the relationships, the feelings of taking a player back to their childhood, or in this case, drawing brothers closer to their father. “Cardinals Baseball was always a way for us to heal as a family,” said Steve. “The game was always a great unifier and clearly, it’s now more than ever.”
COOPERSTOWN FANTASY CAMP