With Cameron Reimers, it’s all about family. Reimers, arguably the Mavericks’ most talented alumnus, will throw out the ceremonial first pitch on July 27th at the American Legion AA Montana-Alberta Championship tournament, surrounded by his family. But Cameron, who played with the Toronto Blue Jays organization, also ended his promising professional baseball career because of his commitment to family.
Reimers played ball with the Mavs from 1994-1997, when he was a student at Sentinel High School. He played his freshman year on A, then three years on AA, mostly pitching, but taking his turn in the infield and outfield. The team was filled with talent, and they won the AA American Legion State Championship in 1995 and again in 1997 where Cameron was named MVP of the tournament.Reimers crushed the Mavericks’ pitching records, some of which stand to this day. Cameron still holds the career Mavs’ records for most starts and most wins, most complete games, most innings pitched, and most shutouts. He also holds the single season records for 1996 and ‘97 for most wins on the mound. But Cameron went through a tough time in high school that could have sidelined him without his family’s support. He became a father.
“I’ll never forget going to practice and handing out those pink bubblegum cigars,” Reimers said. He was just 16 years old. “My family is really, really close. The support I had made all the difference.” Cameron’s family helped him raise his daughter, Dustee, as he struggled to balance school, baseball and fatherhood. “I didn’t get to do very much of the high school stuff, party and all.” He says his Mavs family supported him too, but Coach Brent Hathaway expected the same work from him as any other player.
“Cameron fully embraced the responsibility of being a father,” said Coach Hathaway. “All the time and effort that was needed, Cam was there. He was very fortunate to have a strong family support system to help him. He never used his circumstances as an excuse, and always did more than was asked of him as a player,” said Hathaway. “He is truly one of the most competitive and successful players to come through our program. It's players like Cameron Reimers that set the Maverick baseball program above all the others.”
Reimers crushed the Mavericks’ pitching records, some of which stand to this day. Cameron still holds the career Mavs’ records for most starts and most wins, most complete games, most innings pitched, and most shutouts. He also holds the single season records for 1996 and ‘97 for most wins on the mound.
Reimers comes from a working-class Montana family. His mom, Lois, teaches at Sentinel High School. Dad, Kirby, was a truck driver for various freight companies for 35 years before retiring. Reimers credits his desire to be a good father and the influence of his parents for keeping him on track in high school. He also credits a young woman he met two years after his daughter was born, Breezy Yasenak. “We met in Karen Umbaugh’s math class when I was a senior. She was a junior.”
After graduation, Reimers was drafted in the 14th round by the Toronto Blue Jays. But Reimers, who had scholarship offers from several schools, chose to head to the College of Southern Idaho on the school's first and only full ride scholarship to play ball. “I was kind of the big dog coming in, got a full ride, throwing over 90 miles per hour, supposed to be a main asset for the team. “ And then he got hurt. A bulging disc sent him to physical therapy for the first part of the season. When he returned to the team, he was playing better than ever, posting a 7-0 record to finish his freshman year. Cameron was drafted again by the Toronto Blue Jays after his freshman year, this time in the 35th round as a draft and follow. Cameron says the organization wanted to watch him, see how he recovered from his injury, and see if he was progressing as a pitcher.
His sophomore season at CSI brought even greater success, when he was selected as one of the team’s co-captains and posted a 10-3 record. The College of Southern Idaho also selected him as its Male Athlete of the Year. His performance brought offers from Texas Tech, Fresno State, Mississippi State and UNLV. He picked UNLV because of a full-ride scholarship and pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre, Junior. “I chose UNLV so I could learn from a great pitching coach & become a better pitcher.
But before playing for UNLV, the Blue Jays asserted their rights to Reimers, and signed him immediately following his sophomore season at CSI. The Toronto scouts were obviously pleased with what they saw. “I drove home from (CSI) and the scouting director for the Blue Jays was in my living room the next day.” They made a deal that sent him to the Blue Jay’s rookie team in Medicine Hat, Alberta.
Reimers says playing rookie league ball in Medicine Hat put him near family and friends. His team played the Missoula Osprey the first year of the Osprey’s existence. “I was in Legion ball fields and around family and friends all over Montana. It was really fun to be able to play in places I knew with people I knew in the stands.”
From Medicine Hat, Reimers quickly moved from Low A ball with the Hagerstown, Maryland Suns to High A with the Dunedin, Florida Blue Jays. In 2002 he was assigned to Toronto's AAA squad in Syracuse, NY for a month before being reassigned to a AA squad that moved from Knoxville, Tennessee to New Haven, Connecticut and finally to Manchester, N.H. over five years. Cameron was named to the AA All-Star team twice, in 2003 and 2004. But he says he’s most proud of the community service awards he received from Hagerstown, MD and the Blue Jay organization.
In 2003, Cameron married the girl he met in math class, Breezy. But baseball was determined to interfere with the wedding. Reimers was selected to the MLB’s fall league, a showcase of the best prospects in teams’ organizations. He was home in Missoula for three days, flew to Arizona to play, flew back for the week of his wedding, and by the next Monday was taking his new bride back to Arizona.
Reimers played parts of three years of AAA ball with the Syracuse Sky Chiefs before his contract with the Blue Jays was up and he became a free agent. He signed with the Boston Red Sox in 2006 and went to their spring training in Florida. He was disappointed when the organization released him after spring training, saying they just didn’t see what they were looking for.
Driving home to Montana from Florida, Breezy and Cameron decided it was time to start their family. They agreed to give up the nomadic life baseball can bring and settle back into Missoula. Cameron’s agent called with a good offer to play in Italy, but they turned it down. “Sometimes you wonder what if? But we’ve been blessed in many ways. I’m thankful for that.”
Cameron says he’ll always cherish the memories of playing with and for some the best ball players of his generation. “I’ve gone head to head with Randy Johnson. I pitched against Derek Jeter, Bernie Williams, Kenny Lofton, and Jose Conseco, as well as many others playing in the MLB today. I’ll have those memories forever.”
Cameron and Breezy are now raising two kids, Easton, 9, and Andrin, 7. Easton (“like the bat”) plays football, basketball and baseball, won the NFL punt-pass-kick national championship, and the Missoula Little League title. Daughter Andrin plays softball and is a country girl who can also be a “girly-girl,” according to dad. Cameron’s older daughter Dustee is now 21 and a mom herself. Cameron’s a grandpa to one-year-old Averie.
Reimers, who’s a driver for UPS in Missoula, stays involved with baseball by coaching young pitchers and coaching his son’s and daughter’s ball teams. He carries the lessons he learned under Coach Hath to this day. “It’s how you conduct yourself. You hustle. You take care of your field. No cockiness. No backward hats. Tuck in your jersey. No fighting with the umpires. Lead by example, respect the game and represent your family, your organization and your team well both on and off the field."
The Missoula Mavericks are pleased to have Cameron Reimers throwing out the ceremonial first pitch at the 2016 Montana/Alberta American Legion AA Championships. The opening ceremonies are scheduled to take place between games three and four on Wednesday, July 27th at Lindborg-Cregg Field. Be sure to check out more information on the tournament at www.missoulamavericks.net.