Come (Fantasy) Camping – Part 1

This entry was posted by on Wednesday, 12 June, 2019 at

I have always wanted to go to the Steelers Men’s Fantasy Camp, but two things always seemed to stop me. One was it always fell on the same weekend as the Mid Atlantic Air Museum’s World War II weekend in Reading PA. It usually boasts one of the largest collections of vintage WWII aircraft still flying. The second reason? I couldn’t find anyone to go with me.


This year though, the WWII Weekend was scheduled for the weekend after. Also Rod Woodson, one of my all-time favorite Steelers, would be there. And, as you know, I tried to recruit some Ballers to go (and I hope this Blog will convince a few next year) but with no luck. Then, to top it off, one friend from my hockey team had a surprise 60th B-Day party (yes, we are old) on Saturday and another had his daughter’s (who was a flower girl at my wedding) high school graduation party on Sunday. Looked like it would be another lost year for Fantasy Camp.


Well, as luck…or unluck would have it, I had a little bit of an issue/falling out with some of my friends on the hockey team in mid-April (I won’t go into details here, but like everything else, just assume I was right). Why was I going to miss Fantasy camp just to attend their events when I was pissed at them? The same day it kind of all went down, I signed up for Fantasy camp. It was the push I needed. Yes, I went to camp due to spite…much like how I make most of my decisions in life. At least I am consistent.


I scanned the list of the players who would be attending. It seemed 6 of them, Woodson, Dawson, Lipps, Ilkin, Wolfley and Woodruff all played for the 1989 team. I just happened to have a poster from the 1989 team. It would be a great item to get signed by them. Also, Bleier would be the Friday night guest. I picked up an 8×10 photo of him carrying the ball in Superbowl IX vs the Vikings, a unique photo. I also found a great photo of Woodruff knocking the ball away from Andre Reed, a photo I had never seen before. I also had a gold practice jersey, #76, which would be great to get autographed by Chris Hoke. I packed up all my Steelers garb and I was ready to go. It did mention preferred attire was Black and Gold.


The George Washington bridge was not kind to me, but when is it ever. After a long 8 hour drive I arrived at St. Vincents. I asked the guy at the security booth where I should park for Fantasy camp. He directed me towards the dorms. As I pulled into the parking lot I could see others arriving. I was exhausted from the drive so I stayed in the car a bit to observer their routine. I eventually exited, stretched my legs, and went to get my stuff out of the back of the car. At that point another “camper” got out of his car a few spots over and he said hello. I couldn’t help but notice that this guy was in pretty good shape. I thought, damn, this is what the other guys are gonna be like I am in trouble. He came over to chat and I told him I had just been in SF the last week for work, then got home, packed the car and drove 8 hours here. We talked a bit and he told me he just came in from CA too and he had family in Oakland. I couldn’t help but think he looked familiar. When we were done, he turned to get the rest of his stuff out of the car. That’s when I saw the tag on his bad. D. Dawson. I’m glad I didn’t ask him his name when he first came over….


I dragged my stuff to the dorm like I was back in college…since that was my reference not ever being a Steeler going to training camp. They ushered us to a welcoming committee where information overload, along with paraphernalia overload, ensued. I let them know it was my first year attending so they slowed it down a bit for me. I received my room key and off I went to the 4th floor. I had arrived before my roommate so I had my choice of beds…not like it really mattered. It was what a dorm room is…cold white cinderblock walls with 2 beds, 2 desks, 2 dresser draws. I changed and gathered my memorabilia for the welcome dinner at 5pm. I went back to the area where I checked in. They told me where to go. At least I knew the college. I had been given a tour a few years back by Ben’s friend Eileen who works at St. Vincent. That and having been at training camp 3 years in a row also helped me navigate around.

I arrived at the area where they were having the reception. Steeler highlights were showing on the wall. I felt a little out of place since everyone seemed to know each other. It was a reunion for people who may not have seen each other since last year’s camp. I did see a familiar face. D. Dawson. I went over to chat with him to follow up on our conversation. I told him how I thought he was a regular “camper” since he was parking with everyone else. Also, how I was like, damn…I got to compete against guys like that. He kidded his legs aren’t what they used to be. Ha, isn’t that the same for all of us here! I went on to say as he walked away, I saw his tag and said, damn, that was Dermontti Dawson. He had a good laugh. He is an awesome guy. At that point others joined us and started asking for autographs. It was way early for him to start, he did so anyway.


The autograph session was about to start. I had my poster at the ready. One thing about that 1989 team poster I did not mention. It did not officially say 1989 Steelers and it had a copyright of 1990. I did buy it in December of 1990, but obviously they didn’t just print it for me then. Also, it had 1990 draft choice Eric Green on the poster. It would seem it had to be made after the 1990 draft. This is the tricky part. It shows #73. Now Craig Wolfley was on the 1989 team but not the 1990 team. I have always wondered since I got the poster if it was supposed to be Wolfley or not. The 1990 team did have Strzelczyk with #73 but I doubt he would have made the poster in 1990 as a late draft pick. Also, if you look closely you can see what looks like a W on the back of the player wearing #73. Because of that I always went with Wolfley. Needing to find out, I was able to corral Wolfley before the autograph session started. I asked if he had ever seen this poster and he hadn’t. I said I think that was him but wasn’t sure. He did mention Strzelczyk but I pointed out the W on the back of the jersey. Just then Tunch Ilkin came over. Wolfley asked him if he had ever seen this poster. He did. He said it was the 1989 team. With that, whether it actually was or wasn’t, it was. Wolfley signed by the #73 player. I said well, if it wasn’t him, it is now!

One Response to “Come (Fantasy) Camping – Part 1”

  1. mack mack

    Hi, MW, good stuff waiting on part 2; I got a picture with Dawson with son and grandson on the ship couple yrs ago, he sure is a gentleman.

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