Cup of Coffee in Peoria #PadresFantasyCamp
Just a few days after the 2019 season ended for the Padres – and perhaps still in the “shock & denial” stage of coming to grips with yet another disappointing campaign by the team – Jon Hoover (known as @ChilMyers on #PadresTwitter) made a bold decision.
Narrator: “Jake was wrong.”
“I arrived in the clubhouse and walked to my locker and saw my last name on the back of a brown Padres jersey for the first time and nearly passed out with excitement. “-Jon’s #PadresFantasyCamp journal
Jon Hoover, aka @ChilMyers
Born and raised in La Mesa, Jon works for his family’s commercial landscape maintenance company. He and his wife Lana have a son.
His son goes by Ollie, named after “Ollie’s Point,” a famous surfing spot in Costa Rica.
Jon has surfed competitively since he was 12 years old. He captained the San Diego State University surf team, winning the collegiate longboard state championship in 2011.
As for his baseball experience, it was a solid trajectory from Little League to the River Bandits, a San Diego Adult Baseball League team with four championships under their belt (2014-2018).
Jon arrived at the Padres’ spring training facility in Peoria, Arizona, on a Sunday afternoon, and it didn’t take long for the “fantasy” part of the camp to merge into reality.
“I could hardly sleep. We got to eat breakfast in the same cafeteria as all of the minor league guys and any major league guys that were there early. First morning walking in and seeing Matt Strahm and Josh Naylor was surreal. I watch these guys play baseball for a living and now I’m eating from the same buffet line as them.”-Jon’s #PadresFantasyCamp journal
On the second day of camp, teams were chosen. Jon was drafted by Andy Ashby and Wally Joyner for “Team Bad Ashes.”
On the field later that day, things got real. Local 97.3 The Fan host Steven Woods, playing for “Team Mud Lites,” pulled a Bob Gibson on Jon.
Later that night it was “take your coach to dinner” night.
“We got to hear amaaazing stories from Ash and Wally about the 98 team.”-Jon’s #PadresFantasyCamp journal
Throughout the week, Jon and the other campers had what he describes as “unbelievable access to the whole facility.” During a rain delay on Tuesday, Jon sat next to new skipper Jayce Tingler and together they watched Josh Naylor and Gabriel Arias hit in the cages.
A guy with his own statue at Petco Park and a plaque in Cooperstown arrived on Wednesday.
Mark “Mudcat” Grant was also in attendance and welcomed the campers in the locker room with an inspiring pep talk.
On Thursday, Don Orsillo showed up, and Mud made zero effort to contain himself.
Along the way, even more former Padres players joined the camp.
Back on the field, Trevor took over as coach of Jon’s team.
“[With] Woodsy on the mound, [Trevor] severely rattled him into walking six straight batters. Trevor got in the other teams head and helped us get our first and only win. “-Jon’s #PadresFantasyCamp journal
Jon later found himself in some trouble with Trevor during the camp’s “kangaroo court,” a tradition in baseball which typically involves rookies getting roasted by coaches and veterans.
“Kangaroo court was hilarious! I was charged with disrespecting Trevor Hoffman and his love for cigars. I, myself, highly dislike cigars but thought I would never get a chance to smoke a cigar with a hall of famer again so I went.
Trevor set me up with an easy cigar and we sat down and chatted. He proceeded to tell me all about the process.
Now I had a few drinks before and may have inhaled more smoke than I should have. I started talking trash to Trevor and a camper was a witness to it all. Granted, Trevor started it all and was very good at talking trash.
In kangaroo court I pleaded “not guilty” and had many character witnesses to back me up. I got off scot-free, and Fred Kendall [the judge] ended up fining Trevor for defamation.”-Jon’s #PadresFantasyCamp journal
The championship game was played in the big stadium, and “Team Mud Lites” took home the trophy.
Hanging up the cleats
“This was honestly the best week of my sports life. Tom Seidler, Connor Novak, Andrea Anderson, Randy Jones and all of the coaches and trainers and clubbies made us all feel like big leaguers for the week.”
-Jon’s #PadresFantasyCamp journal
You might be wondering how much it costs to have this much fun for a week? It was approximately $4,750 per camper.
But take a look at this video and imagine yourself hanging out in a big league dugout, talking smack with a crew of ballplayers with whom you are now bonded for life. As Jon puts it: “My body is sore, and my heart is full.”
Next year maybe camp with World Series Champions!
Can you imagine? 🙂 Hey, thanks for reading, John!