Mike Cameron follows son Daz with pride

September 13th, 2020

Mike Cameron was on his couch at home when his phone rang around midnight. The three-time Gold Glove Award winner had just talked with his son, Daz, earlier in the evening about a home run he hit at the Tigers’ alternate training site, but now Daz was calling him again.

“And then he FaceTimed me,” the elder Cameron said. “I was about knocked out on the couch and the knucklehead called me and was smiling from ear to ear.”

And then the reason for the call became clear.

“I'm going to the big leagues, Dad,” Daz told him.

It was the news Mike had been waiting to hear since broke into professional baseball as a first-round Draft pick of the Astros in 2015. He knew it was more when than if. And yet, it still caught him by surprise. Mike knew the shortened season and expanded rosters would result in opportunities for prospects. But COVID-19 hit Daz hard in July, leading to pneumonia, a hospital admission and a month in quarantine, and Daz had to play catch-up.

“And he's been there by himself the whole time,” Mike Cameron said. ”We couldn't get to him. It's so gratifying. He's a fighter, man. He’s a fighter.”

Mike Cameron wanted to fly to Detroit for his son’s debut against the Brewers at Comerica Park, just to be in town. Then he thought about driving up in an RV. But the challenges of baseball’s safety protocols this season made him think twice and watch from home.

But he could still call his old teammates with the Brewers, where he played in 2008 and '09.

“I called up Ryan Braun: ‘Hey, remember that kid who was 12 years old hitting in the cage? Well, you're going to play against him today,’” Cameron said.

Two days later, Mike Cameron was watching on television as Daz stepped to the plate Friday for his third at-bat against White Sox ace Lucas Giolito in Chicago. Daz worked the count full and fouled off a couple of nasty changeups down and in to stay alive. On the eighth pitch of the at-bat, Giolito challenged him with a fastball and Cameron sent it to the opposite field for a two-run single.

It was Daz Cameron’s first Major League hit, for the Tigers, against the White Sox. It came at the same ballpark where Mike Cameron got his first big league hit, for the White Sox, against the Tigers, 25 years and 12 days earlier.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the Camerons are the fourth father-son duo in the past 70 years to record their first Major League hits at the same ballpark, joining Bo and Dante Bichette in Kansas City, Gary Matthews Sr. and Jr. in San Diego, and Jim and Jeff McKnight at Wrigley Field.

“You can't even describe some of the things that are happening,” Mike Cameron said. “He could've got a hit in St. Louis. He could've got a hit in Detroit. Instead, he was playing the White Sox. I got my first hit against Detroit off C.J. Nitkowski at Comiskey Park. It's so unique, man, to see these things take place.”

As Daz settles in, it’ll become more routine, more like a job. But for now, father and son are soaking this up.

“He told me the other day, before he got his first hit, ‘You know, Dad, I can play here,’” Mike said. “And I said, ‘I know you can, because you grew up here.’

“It's been really cool. I think I was very excited and proud and happy for Dazmon because this year, the things that we've all gone through, but then the fact that he got really sick and still got the opportunity to play in the big leagues. To see him get a hit, it was like he's eight or nine again.”

Quick hits
• Second baseman was out of Sunday’s lineup to rest his sore legs, manager Ron Gardenhire said.

• Shortstop (right oblique strain) could be activated from the 10-day injured list as soon as Tuesday, when he’s scheduled to go through a full pregame workout. “He’s been doing great, swinging from both sides,” Gardenhire said. “The next step is for him to do that in front of us when we get home, take BP, ground balls, the whole package.”

• Utlity man , also on the 10-day IL, continues to deal with a sore right hamstring as well as his strained left hamstring. “We thought that we’d have him back by now, but he’s had a setback running the bases,” Gardenhire said. “I don’t have a timetable yet.”