09/17/08 4:52 PM ET
Once a Cub, always a Cub for Hundley
Former catcher runs long-standing fantasy camp in Mesa, Ariz.
By Nick Zaccardi / MLB.com
Hundley, 66, runs a yearly Cubs fantasy camp in Mesa, Ariz., home of the club's Spring Training complex. It is billed as the first and original fantasy camp, beginning in the early 1980s to allow adults to live out Major League dreams.
"When I first started, I never thought it would last this long," Hundley said of the camp, which takes place in the last week of January. "But I'm thankful that it has, and we still have a great time."
For $3,295, campers receive an eight-day big league experience, including daily instruction from former pros, personalized uniforms, bats and baseball cards and even a "Major League" contract. The week culminates with a game pitting the campers against the former Cubs.
Coaches include Hall of Famers Billy Williams and Fergie Jenkins as well as Glenn Beckert, Jody Davis, Bobby Dernier and Ron Santo. Even "Mr. Cub," Ernie Banks, shows up from time to time. The camp's longevity is due to the impressions left on the customers.
"They invariably go away and say it's the greatest thing that they've ever done in their lives," Hundley said. "Needless to say, I'm proud of that."
Hundley also smiles about his time with the Cubs as the club's primary catcher from 1966-73. Following stops in Minnesota and San Diego, Hundley finished his career with the Cubs from 1976-77.
He cherishes the 1969 season most of all, one of the greatest Cubs squads of the last century. Hundley made his only All-Star team that year, hitting 18 homers with 64 RBIs.
"It was a tremendous season for all of us, for the players and the fans," Hundley said. "It didn't turn out exactly the way we wanted it to [the Miracle Mets came back to win the division], but we all knew as players that we gave it everything we had."
Hundley now lives in nearby Palatine, watching his 11 grandchildren and playing golf with his son, former Cubs catcher Todd Hundley. Randy and Todd are one of seven father-son combinations to play for the franchise.
Neither has lost his competitive spirit.
"I don't want him beating me," Randy Hundley said. "He doesn't want me beating him either."
Nick Zaccardi is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.