Buxton, O's, Twins give fan 'best day ever' after signed ball was snatched

April 18th, 2024

BALTIMORE -- When 8-year-old Camden Cleveland plays baseball, he wears uniform No. 25 on his back in honor of his favorite player, -- so Tuesday was a surreal day when he got the opportunity to have Buxton sign a baseball for him.

But surreal turned to devastating when, as father Sam Cleveland described it, an unknown fan snatched the ball from the usher bringing it to Camden and ran away with it.

Fortunately, Buxton and the baseball world rallied in Camden’s corner.

Thanks to a lightning-quick spreading of the word all over social media, Buxton, Bally Sports North sideline reporter Audra Martin, the Twins and the Orioles all came together to give Camden a day he described as “the best day ever,” making it right with not only a special day at the ballpark, but also a Buxton-signed ball, bat and batting gloves.

“For my son at 8 years old to be able to experience that, that's a core memory,” Sam Cleveland said. “That's something that he's always going to remember for the rest of his life. He's going to see the good of humanity.”

“Just letting him know I appreciate the support,” Buxton said. “I've got your back.”

After Camden drowned his sorrows in pizza and chicken tenders on Tuesday, Sam and Ashley Cleveland decided to try again with their son on Wednesday, after Buxton had vowed to make things right on social media. When they pulled into the parking lot, they found a direct message waiting for them from the Orioles, instructing them to call a phone number.

On the line was a representative of new Orioles owner David Rubenstein, inviting the family to sit in Rubenstein’s own seats in the front row adjacent to home plate, with a bag of Orioles goodies also waiting for them. That was the first surprise, said Sam, a Wisconsin native and huge Twins fan who moved to Annapolis, Md., in 2011 to join the Coast Guard.

Then, the top of the fourth inning rolled around, and Martin -- who had been spreading the story around the Twins’ clubhouse before the game -- found the family in their seats. From a bag, she produced the gifts that Buxton had entrusted her in the clubhouse to bring to the family -- and when Camden saw them, there were tears behind the large sunglasses he was wearing.

“I never thought I was even going to get a gift,” Camden Cleveland said. “It made me feel really, really happy. The best day ever.”

Buxton did remember signing for Camden on Tuesday, he said, but he didn’t have any idea what had happened until he saw the clamor on social media later. He said he thought of his three boys -- Brixton, Blaze and Baire -- and, during this interview, he suppressed the words that immediately came to mind when thinking about the kind of person that would do this to a child.

“I just didn't know somebody grabbed his ball,” Buxton said. “That's the sucky part of it is, you do everything you're supposed to do right to get an autograph from your favorite person. … Being in the position I'm in and to have that happen, that's obviously not something I want to happen to my kid. I felt bad. I felt the need to do a little bit more to try to brighten up his day.”

Sam Cleveland said he tried to initially use the rotten moment as a life lesson for his son, and Buxton echoed that sentiment, as he wished he could also have talked to Camden about such difficulties that can sometimes come up in life, like he would to his own sons.

But even when faced with such moments, Sam Cleveland says his kid is the kind to still try to see the good in humanity, pointing out when situations aren’t fair to others around him and trying to push away the idea that life is sometimes not fair.

And on Wednesday, the goodness of Buxton and the baseball world indeed won out.

“It reassures your faith in humanity, you know?” Sam Cleveland said. “Just to see all of those baseball fans -- it wasn't just Twins fans. It was Orioles fans. For the owner of the Orioles to give Camden seats to his game, it's indescribable just how much we were able to turn a negative into what Camden describes as the best day of his life.”