SU catcher Cameron to extend baseball career in Australia
Dan Cameron had a backup plan – of sorts – in case his pursuit of a professional baseball career didn’t pan out upon his graduation from Shenandoah University this past May.
When he was 18 years old, Cameron – SU’s starting catcher in each of the last two seasons after he transferred from Henry Ford Community College in his home state of Michigan following his sophomore year in 2015 – had bought a cheap guitar on a whim, taught himself to play and began writing country music.
The hobby eventually led to the recording of his first EP, titled “Hurricane,” which was released on iTunes and Spotify in April, and his plan following college graduation, he said with a chuckle during a phone interview Tuesday afternoon, was to move to Nashville, Tennessee, to work on recording his first full-length country album.
A text message from Shenandoah University assistant coach Bruce Cameron on June 5, asking if the former SU catcher would be interested in playing professional baseball in Australia, halted that endeavor.
Dan Cameron jumped at the opportunity to continue his career on the diamond, setting in motion a series of interactions that he said landed him a roster spot with the Carine Cats for the Australian team’s upcoming season.
“I thought (my baseball career) was coming to an end there,” Cameron said. “Knowing this happened, it was just kind of like wow, of course. I moved from Michigan to Virginia just being spontaneous, you know. I was like I already did this once, I did something that I was uncomfortable with and now the opportunity presented itself.
“It’s still kind of hard to fathom that I’m gonna be moving to Australia to play baseball, but when the option came up to me it was a no-brainer. I don’t know if it’s because I don’t wanna start working for the man yet or if I wanna just keep playing ball.”
The Carine Cats, members of the Western Australia State League, are in essence a feeder program of the Australian Baseball League’s Perth Heat, Cameron said, and operates similar to how a minor league affiliate would with Major League Baseball in the United States.
Cameron said shortly after being approached about possibly extending his baseball career overseas he was put in touch with former SU pitcher Greg Van Sickler, who played for Carine in 2013 and 2014.
From there he connected with a pair of Carine team representatives, with whom Cameron said he shared his game tapes and stats. A month later, on July 3, he was offered a roster spot, and he signed his contract with the Cats on July 8, he said.
Cameron said Van Sickler was able to provide some insight into what awaits him when he arrives in Australia at the end of September.
“He told me what to expect going there, what it’s like, what I’m doing, who I’m playing for, how it all works out there,” Cameron said.
“As far as the people there, he said they’re some of the nicest people in the world. He said he’s never met so many people just so genuinely nice and laid back. As far as baseball, he said the competition level’s very high.”
Cameron said the Carine Cats will pay for “certain amenities” while he plays for the team, which include housing, food and a car. He added that the team also helps players who are interested find part-time jobs.
Competition in the Western Australia State League begins in October and runs through March. Cameron, who will board a two-day flight to Perth on Sept. 26, he said, is scheduled to report on Oct. 1.
He said the venture will be his first outside the United States, not counting the trips he’s made across the Canadian border that lies just 20 miles east of his hometown of Livonia, Michigan.
“I’m glad I have the month or two before I go, to prepare myself,” Cameron said, “but my thing is don’t take anything for granted when you’re over there. See the world, be accepting to every different culture, different lifestyles and see how it can make me a better person in the long run.”
Cameron, who missed the second half of his junior season at Shenandoah University after breaking his hand, played in 46 of 51 games as a senior in 2017 and batted .347 with two home runs and 37 RBIs. The catcher was named second team All-Old Dominion Athletic Conference and second team ABCA/Rawlings All-Region.
Cameron, who noted that he walked away from an offer to play for one of his dream schools in Michigan to attend Shenandoah, said his experience in Winchester was one he “wouldn’t trade for the world.”
“Not only did me going to Virginia allow me to have the opportunity (to play baseball in Australia), but … if I hadn’t moved to Virginia, even if I was given the opportunity, I don’t think I would’ve done it, just because the growth that I had there (at SU),” Cameron said. “I moved eight hours from family and everyone. I think that allowed me to grow. I’m pretty excited to go over there.”