MVP MemoriesApr 28, 2023 01:54PM ● By Jan Weeks
What was your favorite childhood fantasy? Ballerina? Fireman? Sports star? Rock star?
Dan Terrell wanted to play major league baseball, but only after his older brother signed him up for Little League.
“Then I was hooked!” Terrell, now 72, said.
The baseball bug bit him hard, and his goal became to play for the majors.
Terrell, who grew up in Elyria, Ohio, never missed a Cleveland Indians (as they were called then) game if he could help it. He worked hard in school because each A earned a kid two tickets to see the Indians play, compliments of The Cleveland Press.
Life sidetracked even the most deep-seated ambitions, but Terrell never lost sight of his dream.
Meanwhile, his now-wife, Barbara Bellamy, was growing up across the river as another rabid Indians (now Guardians) fan. It seems they were fated to meet later in life and become partners as well as fans who traveled 1,000 miles from Grand Junction to see the team play whenever they could.
So what better way to celebrate Terrell turning 70 than for Bellamy to gift him a week at the Guardians Fantasy Camp in Goodyear, Arizona? Unfortunately, COVID put the kibosh to that in 2020, so Terrell and Bellamy had to wait until 2023 to realize that dream.
Dan Terrell and his wife Barbara Bellamy at the ballpark.
A home run
In January, they headed out to camp.
“It’s truly a dream come true—a complete fantasy,” Terrell said.
Cocktails and a banquet on the first night welcomed the guests, where Terrell met Mike Hargrove, who managed the Indians for nine years and took them to winning the World Series pennant in 1995 and 1997. He also met Rick Manning, former center fielder for the Indians and Milwaukee Brewers, who is now a television broadcaster.
All those attending camp received a full kit of clothing and gear.
“I got an entire wardrobe, down to the socks!” said Terrell.
He also received two Louisville Slugger bats: one to play with and, at the camp’s end, another inscribed with his name and signed by 16 pros. His locker had his name on it, and so did his jacket and uniform.
At camp, 96 participants were divided into eight teams with 12 players per team. Sixteen former Indians players coached the teams. The “home” team played the “visitors” in the morning and swapped roles in the afternoon.
Terrell’s most memorable moments came when he had to learn to bat as a lefty because of eye changes as he aged.
“I couldn’t see the ball clearly batting right-handed, and you can’t hit what you can’t see,” he said.
His dedication took him to the batting cages every morning to practice, which really impressed the pros. Then the days turned into a series of games, where the various teams played each other. Terrell played second base, and is proud of striking out only once in nine games.
One game he came up to bat against a hot-shot 30-something-year-old pitcher.
“That kid played hardball,” Terrell said, “but I hit a line drive off him and my team won the game 4-0.”
That hit earned him the title of MVP for the day.
Dan Terrell, right, with former Indians centerfielder Rick Manning, center, and the team’s former manager Mike Hargrove, left.
Each day the camp put out a “newspaper” with statistics and stories about the previous day’s exploits. There was also a kangaroo court that fined players for infractions like coming to the plate without a batting helmet, or eating Chipotle food on the field as one player did. All the fines went to charities the Guardians support, such as ones providing equipment and uniforms for underprivileged kids.
The last night of camp included a live auction. Attendees bid on items such as passes to Guardians’ home games and four box seats.
Terrell was the oldest attendee, living his dream at last.
“I’d go back in a heartbeat,” he said, “but it’s expensive. There was one person there who has been to 16 camps!”
Terrell counts himself most fortunate to have been gifted one camp. His memories will last a lifetime.