The Sun's Jamison Hensley spoke with Ken Nigro, who runs several fantasy baseball camps in Florida.
Q: How did you become involved with fantasy camps?
A: When I worked with the Orioles, an outside company handled their fantasy camps and I was like a liaison between the two. The more I got involved, the more I liked it and I felt I was good at it, too. Then I said: Well, I should go out on my own and do this.
Q: How do you get ideas for making each camp unique?
A: My philosophy is that if it is good, only make subtle changes. We always try to please the customer. It's like a Broadway play; the next night, you have to go out there and make it better. For me, the only difference is that it's the next year. I take suggestions from the people, too.
Q: Why do you think people enjoy playing in these fantasy camps?
A: They love to hit the ball and love the sound of the ball hitting the bat. It's that simple. I could say other things like seeing former players, but the nitty-gritty answer is they love to hear the ball hitting the bat. That's why we don't use aluminum bats.
Q: Explain the concept behind your Field of Dreams Fantasy Camp [which was held Labor Day weekend at the movie cornfield in Dyersville, Iowa]?
A: It was so different from the other camps. You were in middle America and were in awe watching the guys coming through the corn. You also had guys from different states at one camp. At team camps, you just have people from Cleveland for the Indians camp, people from Baltimore for the Orioles camp, and so on.
Q: Are there any future camps planned along the lines of the Field of Dreams Camp?
A: With a small business, you try to take it one year at a time. You don't plan ahead too much. You don't want to expand too much and then lose your business. I concentrate on one year at a time.
Q: How can people learn about future camps?
A: They can call me at (800) 336-CAMP. I mainly get my customers through word of mouth and the small advertisements I buy.
Q: Can you explain the basics of your camp?
A: It's for everyone 30 years old and over. That includes men and women. The women we have had can flat-out play. But they get the chance to play just like big-leaguers. They get to wear uniforms, get lockers and play ball. Then they talk and socialize after the games just like big-leaguers.
Q: Do you try and vary the former players that attend your camp?
A: It's basically the same pros that come back. In this business, we have a lot of repeat business. The people that come back like seeing the same guys each year. It's sort of like a reunion. We do try and get a few new pros. But some pros don't interact as well, and we have to try and weed them out.