Written by Victoria Caruso-Davis Friday, 31 July 2009 00:00
Camden Maron is a true New York Mets fan.
As a newborn, his parents dressed him in team garb to celebrate Opening Day. At age 7, he auditioned to be a Mets “announcer for the day.” And, as a teenager, the bedroom he shares with younger brother Zach is decorated with Mets memorabilia, right down to the orange walls and blue carpet.
“I grew up rooting for the New York Mets, all the way, 100 percent,” said Camden. “The World Series run in 2000 was amazing and the 2006 playoff run was exhilarating.”
Last month, the 18-year-old Hicksville fan received a phone call informing him that he had been selected – by the Mets – in the 34th round of Major League Baseball’s (MLB) 2009 Amateur Player Draft. On June 30, Camden headed off to Port Saint Lucie, FL to join the Gulf Coast League (GCL) Mets – the team’s Minor League Baseball affiliate.
On July 10 Camden was activated and, 24 hours later, made his professional debut behind the plate when the GCL Mets took on the GCL Cardinals. In the seventh hole, Camden, who bats left and throws right, singled and scored in the second inning and, in the seventh, walked and scored to help lead the Gulf Coast Mets to a 10-0 victory.
According to an online MLB scouting report, Camden has “exceptional blocking skills behind the plate, [a] strong, accurate arm [and is] a good left handed hacker at the plate showing good power to all fields.”
And, this summer is Camden’s chance to show he has what it takes to make the team.
Currently, a typical day of practice begins at 6:30 a.m. A bus takes Camden and his teammates from the hotel to the field. Following a team meeting, it’s off to mandatory training, which includes running and stretching, conditioning and team fundamentals based on what the coaching staff feels the players need to work on as determined from the previous game. Infield and outfield practice, similar to batting practice in the majors, follow. Sometimes, Camden said, he takes extra batting practice or catches side sessions for the pitchers. On most days, the bus returns to the hotel around 5:30-6 p.m. “Once we get back to the hotel, it is all free time and we can do anything to our leisure,” said Camden. “Curfew is at 11 p.m.”
Camden’s baseball career began at the age of 6 when he joined the Hicksville Baseball Association (HBA). He spent his first two years as an outfielder but, at the age of 8, Camden, who was coached by his father Bill, changed positions and has been behind the plate ever since. “The two of them would plan lineups and game strategy every night during the season,” said Camden’s mother, Ellen.
Growing up, Camden was also involved with St. Ignatius CYO Basketball and the Hicksville American Soccer Club, but soon decided to turn his focus solely on baseball. “At the age of 11, Cam told us that baseball was his passion. We laughed because we didn’t know 11-year-olds had a passion,” said Ellen. “He decided to give up all other sports to focus on his dream of becoming a professional baseball player.”
In 2004, at the age of 13, Camden joined the Long Island Astros Elite Travel Team. As a member of the Astros, and team captain for four years, Camden traveled from Massachusetts to Florida nine months a year under the guidance of coach Jeff Rusoff. Additionally, he was on varsity baseball team throughout his four years at Hicksville High School, serving first as an outfielder and then as catcher – and team captain – during the 2008 and 2009 seasons.
Camden’s senior year of high school featured such career highlights as being selected to the All-Conference Nassau County Team and being named All-County and Class of 2009 Outstanding Scholar-Athlete. Additionally, he was one of five finalists for 2009’s Diamond Award, was the winner of the Ambrose Moran Memorial Award and was selected to the 2009 New York State Sportswriters Association’s All Star Team. Camden also took part in the Nassau County Baseball Exceptional Senior Game and the RTC Grand Slam Senior All-Star Challenge, winning the Most Valuable Catcher Award.
In a release issued by the school district, Hicksville High School Varsity Baseball Coach Frank Ciaramitaro described Camden as “one of the finest baseball players and students that Hicksville has ever seen.” According to Ciaramitaro, Camden is “a once-in-a-decade player. His skill set, baseball acumen, dedication and commitment to the sport of baseball are unparalleled.”
Camden’s success was not just limited to the baseball field but stemmed to the classroom as well. Throughout his high school career, Camden completed a rigorous curriculum, balancing the heavy demands of athletics and a schedule packed with Advanced Placement and Honors-level courses to graduate in the top 10 percent of his class.
Prior to being drafted, Camden received a baseball and academic scholarship from C.W. Post College but may now be weighing his options. His compensation package from the Mets includes a scholarship fund to pursue a college education during the off-season (September through March) before returning to camp for the start of the 2010 season. There is also the possibility that Camden, at the request of the Mets, could remain in Florida into mid-October.
Camden credits his parents, Ellen and Bill, and his late grandfather, Arthur Schneider, along with coaches Rusoff and Ciaramitaro as his role models. He also looks up to retired MLB catcher Mike Piazza, who played seven seasons behind the plate for the Mets, and the men and women serving in the United States Armed Forces. His favorite players in the game today include Mets centerfielder Carlos Beltran, St. Louis Cardinals first baseman Albert Pujols and Boston Red Sox pitcher Josh Beckett.
While making it to the major leagues obviously ranks top on Camden’s personal goal list so does “being a career .300 hitter in the minors, avoiding major injuries that require long rehabilitation assignments [or are] career-ending and improving [his] defensive skills as a catcher.” He told the Hicksville Illustrated News that if he could not play professional baseball he would most likely be “involved in athletic training, physical therapy or some other athletic assistant position for a living.”
For Camden’s family, this once-in-a-lifetime experience has been a “whirlwind” and Ellen said she cannot wait to see her son in action. “[We] are heading to Port St. Lucie to watch a few games and see Camden in his Met uniform,” she said.