FENNIMORE — Former Milwaukee Brewers slugger Rob Deer will make a return visit to “The City on the Move” this month. And he won’t be alone.
Deer will visit Fennimore July 28-30 as he and several former Milwaukee Brewers take part in a Rob Deer Baseball Camp.
The late-July visit will be Deer’s third to Fennimore. He held a one-day camp July 5 last year and returned for a hitting camp in May.
“Rob said it was so wonderful here, the fields are beautiful and we have a great complex, that they would like to do another camp,” said Steve Lendosky, a lifelong Brewers fan and friend of Deer.
The one-day camp last July was an act of kindness in honor of Steve’s son, Derek, who passed away in August 2013. Over 250 youngsters attended the free event.
Joining Deer as coaches at this month’s three-day camp will be Greg Vaughn, Cecil Cooper, Jim Gantner, Fernando Vina, Pete Ladd, Steve Woodward and Jeff D’Amico. Former Atlanta Braves pitcher John Rocker is among the coaches also.
“Did I ever think it was going to be this big? No,” Steve said. “Rob has a list of camps on his website that he is doing and there are a couple three-day camps and they do have a couple other pros helping them, but none of them are doing the at-night part of it like we are doing with the three day-stuff. We are bringing something very unique into town here.”
The camps, held two per day, were limited to 75 participants each and are now full. Additional registrations cannot be accepted.
“Our goal was to keep the entries at a level where we could make sure that each child would get individual attention throughout the camp,” Steve said. “With around 70 in each session, we can keep the group sizes down so that the learning potential is greater.”
What will campers learn?
“It is going to be very structured and they are going to learn all aspects of the game,” Steve said. “They will learn hitting and hitting techniques. They are going to learn proper running. Some will learn about bunting. They are going to learn about fielding and proper fielding for infielders and for outfielders.
“They are also going to learn pitching and the pitching aspect is probably what makes this most unique. A lot of the camps are hitting and throwing, but we are going to have established major league pitchers. That pitching aspect, teaching kids the proper mechanics of throwing and maybe even showing them how to throw, as far as grip goes, some different pitches, is probably going to be the most unique part of the camp.
“How often do you have the opportunity? You get plenty of high school and college coaches that are going to teach you things, but these are guys that had established MLB careers that are going to come back and teach your kids how to do it the right way.”
Deer looks forward to witnessing firsthand the progress each camper will make throughout camp.
“Obviously we see a lot more of a change in three days than we do in three hours,” he said. “Something was given to me and it is a lot of experience, a lot of time and knowledge, and for me to give back to kids when they come and share a three day event or a three hour event, to see that they have improved, to see that the parents are happy, it is all about trying to get kids to improve.
“Everybody that has children, they go to a baseball game and they want to see their kid be competitive. If I can spend three hours with them to help, we all want to go see our kid at least have a chance to hit a ball, make a catch or know how to play the game properly. That is what we do. We try to teach them that when their parents sit there in the stands, they can watch them and be proud that their kid can be competitive at playing.”
In addition to the Rob Deer Baseball Camp, Fennimore will host a Pros vs. Joes softball game on Tuesday evening, July 28. Derek’s Dream Team, which includes all eight coaches, Steve and two roster spots that were won by auction, will play team Suppz.com, which includes local celebrities and camp sponsors.
Lancaster’s Jamie McCartney in May won an auction via Facebook for a spot on Derek’s Dream Team. Fennimore’s Al Streif won a subsequent auction.
“I had been looking for a way to ‘pay it forward,’ and with baseball being the greatest game ever invented, what better way,” McCartney said of his winning bid. “The Lendosky family is amazingly strong. I had the opportunity to coach against Steve last year and in the end it was all about teaching. Teaching kids to love the great sport of baseball!
“It just appeared to be the perfect opportunity to ‘pay it forward,’ along with playing softball with the players I grew up idolizing. Derek loved the game of baseball, which has been obvious since the tragedy. I grew up loving it and now my boys are doing the same thing. I am just honored to be part of such an amazing event.”
Deer was honored by McCartney’s four-digit bid, which benefitted the Derek Lendosky Memorial Fund.
“It is a total honor to know that people are wanting to give back to the cause for Derek and to give back to be a part of a great four-day event, and enjoy and be involved with all the fun that is going to happen,” he said. “And this whole thing is on my name, so that makes me even more proud. The whole aura about it, we have been talking about it for months. This is going to be a fun event. It is going to be an experience that will make lifelong memories.”
Gregg, Trent and Mitch Davis will sing the national anthem prior to the game, which will be broadcast live on WGLR. Jerseys worn by members of Derek’s Dream Team will be autographed and auctioned following the game.
“A Night With the Pros” will be held on Wednesday night, July 29, at The Silent Woman. A question-and-answer session is set for 6:30-8 p.m., followed by an opportunity for attendees to meet, receive an autograph from and have a photo taken with each of the former MLB stars in attendance. Tickets ($40), which includes food, can be purchased by calling Brechler-Lendosky Group or (608) 988-6222.
“This is going to be a situation where we can sit down and people can ask us questions and there is no media, there is no press, so we can talk about just about anything,” Deer said. “It is going to be fun because believe it or not, everybody on that list has a ton of different stories, and those stories you never get to hear.
“That is part of giving back to people that come here and want to enjoy the scenario. We can give knowledge to their children, as far as the proper way to play, but it is fun to give their parents knowledge about our playing times and experiences.”
Steve experienced a similar question-and-answer session while at Brewers Fantasy Camp in 2014.
“I think the question-and-answer part of Fantasy Camp was probably one of the highlights,” he said. “For a person that loves baseball as much as I do, it was great.
“There are always questions you wanted to know: which pitcher did you hate facing? What was your favorite ballpark? What was your greatest memory? What is the greatest thing you ever accomplished on the field? I think hearing how the life of baseball is for the players when they are on the road is something that is really interesting.”
An 18-team golf scramble tournament is scheduled for Thursday, July 30. A former Brewers great will join each team of four, as each team will have the opportunity to bid for which legend they want to add to their roster.
All teams for the golf scramble tournament are filled, but silent auction items will be available throughout the evening for all. Proceeds from silent auctions held throughout the camp will benefit the Derek Lendosky Memorial Fund.