Cameron tries to make life great for kids
Center fielder has impacted the community at each spot
Whether he's donning uniforms emblazoned with logos from the White Sox, Reds, Mariners, Mets, Padres or Brewers, Mike Cameron expects to be busy off the field.
The veteran center fielder, still spry with the Brewers at age 36, can't extend himself far enough to help in all the community programs in which he's interested.
So what's Cameron's No. 1 passion?
"If it's anything, it has to be the fact there's so many single parents and so many inner-city kids who don't have fathers," he said. "Being able to help those kids and moms out for an outing to the ballpark is important.
"Anytime you can reach youth through things like the Starlight Foundation -- kids who are mentally or physically challenged -- is important. You do anything for them to brighten their day."
In 2001, Cameron created the Cam4Kids Foundation through which he helps inner-city youth. He also hosted the First State Golf Tournament for Inner-City Kids in 2002 and 2003 to raise money for scholarships as well as provide golf clubs and balls for youths unable to afford them.
"I don't want to put a value [on one contribution or charity]," Cameron said. "You do things like helping kids get scholarships. There are so many things. I'm just blessed to have an opportunity to help somebody, besides myself and my family."
Cameron has conducted numerous speaking engagements throughout his career for the Boys and Girls Clubs and RBI (Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities) Program. He has been a contributor to the Make-A-Wish Foundation and the Garth Brooks Foundation.
With the Mets, he participated in baseball camps for children in conjunction with the Starlight Foundation. In San Diego, he was involved in the Read with a Pro community program, visiting grade schools to read from the It Takes a Team children's book he co-authored in 2001.
"There are some similarities everywhere you go," Cameron said. "You try to take on that role in the next city. Just because I changed teams doesn't mean I change as a person. Those people who you reach out and touch, they remember, no matter where you speak to them."
Cameron appreciates the support of the teams as he gets involved in charitable efforts.
"So many teams place a value on players going into the community," he said. "We have some mandatory events you have to go to. Some guys don't like getting up in the morning, but if it brightens a young man's or young woman's day -- or puts a thought in their mind to change their life -- and it lasts a lifetime, I think those things are truly invaluable and truly important. Whatever life experience I have coming across, I try to share."
Cameron is much closer to the end of his playing days than the start, but community work will continue after his last at-bat.
"I'll try to do my best [after my career is over]," he said. "First and foremost, I owe a lot to my four young kids [daughters T'aja and Lillo and sons Dazmon and Mekhi] and my wife [JaBreka] to allow this opportunity to provide for them and do some special things.
"At home, I [coach] a basketball team and traveling baseball team. That's my passion. I'll do everything to help young kids."
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.