Cameron, Jim (2018)
“Jim , his senior year at UMaine carried the team to a first place tie in the Yankee Conference. He was the leading hitter and hit fourth in the lineup. He was also the number one pitcher with an 6-1 record. That is rare in division one baseball.”
- Dennis Libbey
Jim was born in Bar Harbor, Maine on May 22, 1947 the son of Edward L. (Ted) Cameron, Jr. and Eleanor Griffiths Cameron. Ted was a very well-known baseball player from the late 1940’s and 1950’s, playing for the Bar Harbor Collegians in the old Eastern Maine League. “They tell me he was one of the best ball players of his day – hit some of the longest balls they have ever seen.” Jim recalls his younger days as a batboy for the Collegians traveling with his dad around to the respective towns with teams in the League. “I remember riding in the back of Ken Gray’s station wagon – not in the back seat, but way in the backend sitting on the duffle bags that had all the bats, helmets and catchers gear in it (no seatbelt laws back then!). They told some pretty good jokes, too.” Unknown at the time, Ken Gray would eventually become Jim’s basketball and baseball coach during his high school career. Jim has a younger brother, Bob, who resides in Brunswick with his wife, Sue.
Growing up in Bar Harbor, Jim spent most of his childhood days “down at the ballfield”. He lived in a neighborhood just a block away from the field, and in a section of town that had many “kids” who loved to play ball. Pick-up games were a daily occurrence, “broken bats held together with wood screws and adhesive tape, warped and water-logged balls and heated arguments were all part of the experience.” Jim recalls his Acadia Little League and Pony League days playing for the Webber Construction and Green Socks teams. On rainy days, the local YMCA was the place where you would find Jim. “I was fortunate to live in a community that had a local Y. Without exaggeration, every day of the week involved some activity at the YMCA – never did learn to swim though!”
Jim entered Bar Harbor High School in the Fall of 1961. During his high school tenure he was a four-year letter winner in football, basketball and baseball. He was named to the Bangor Daily News All-State Basketball Team (second team) in 1965. During Jim’s high school days, unlike basketball there were no state classifications in football and baseball – you played to win your conference. “We did pretty well, finished second a couple times in the Little Ten Football Conference and won a couple of Penobscot Valley Conference baseball championships. When the regular season was over, it was over, no post-season.” Jim was selected for many individual honors in all three sports throughout his high school career.
In the Spring of 1964, Jim accepted the opportunity to be a camp counselor/coach in the baseball program at Camp Graylag in Pittsfield New Hampshire. Graylag was Bob Cousy’s summer basketball camp. “The Cous” would show up every couple weeks or so to check in. “We (the counselors) would get a pick-up basketball game going under the lights when he was there. I remember a fast-break where he threw a behind the back pass to me. Never saw it coming – whizzed by my head out of bounds. The guy was an absolute magician with a basketball.”
Shortly after high school graduation, Jim was accepted for admission to the University of Maine. At the same time, he had also just received two offers to sign professional baseball contracts – the St. Louis Cardinals and the Philadelphia Phillies. There was no MLB draft at this time. “Talk about a dilemma, I had just turned 18 years old in May, had never really been away for any period of time, and I knew my parents wanted me to go to college. So, college it was. Do I ever ask myself the what-if scenario? Sure, who wouldn’t, but I have no regrets.” Jim will readily admit that college got off to a bad start for him. “Thought it would be easy – had my priorities out of order”. Jim followed the career of UMaine’s Dick DeVarney very closely. He was the shortstop of the baseball team that went to the College World Series in 1964 and the quarterback of the football team that appeared in the Tangerine Bowl in 1965. “That was the path I wanted to take, and while at Maine I got to know Dick and had several classes with him. I spent most of my time on sports related activities and not the books – this unfortunately resulted in academic difficulties costing me a year of eligibility and the possibility of other offers for professional baseball. I hope there is a lesson here for young student athletes!”
At Maine Jim played for the late Jack Butterfield. “Without question, one of the best baseball minds ever. His knowledge of and passion for this game we all love was second to none.” Jim was Co-Captain of the 1970 UMaine team, along with Bob Curry (MBHOF1999). The 1970 team was Yankee Conference Co-Champions along with the University of Connecticut. Jim, 5-0 at the time, had beaten all Yankee Conference teams that season and was on the mound for the playoff game held on a neutral field at the University of New Hampshire. Maine lost 2-0. “Pitched well enough to win, we just couldn’t get the offense going. I recall it was the only game we were shutout all season.” Jim was selected for the All Yankee Conference Teams in 1969 and 1970 and All Maine Intercollegiate Athletic Association (State Series) Teams in those same years. During the 1970 season Jim held the record for most home runs in a season by a Maine player. “That was nice at the time, but with today’s expanded schedules, it would seem pretty minimal.” After his Maine career, Jim continued playing baseball for a number of years for the MDI Acadians, a semi-pro baseball team coached by Dennis Damon (MBHOF 2017) during the late 1960’s and early 1970’s when “Town Teams” were still the norm for organized baseball in eastern Maine. “Over those years, there were some great teams: the Mattawamkeag Merchants, Dixmont, Bangor, Old Town, Guilford, to name a few. Sunday double-headers were very common.”
After college, Jim married his wife, Donna Newell Cameron, who is an Augusta native. When they met, she had just graduated from nursing school and was a registered nurse at the then Eastern Maine General Hospital in Bangor. “She had been reading about my baseball exploits at Maine and she literally tracked me down when I was working a summer job in Bar Harbor.” They were married in January 1971 and have two children, James and Kristen. Jim and Donna lived in Bar Harbor where Jim was employed by Bangor Hydro-Electric Company (now Emera, Maine). In 1979, they purchased land and built a home in Trenton where they now reside. Jim and Donna will celebrate their 48th wedding anniversary next January.
After relocating to Trenton, Jim became very active in the community. He coached Little League and Senior League baseball for 12 years with “Bunky” Dow, the Athletic Director at Mount Desert Island High School. Jim served 11 terms (33 years) on the Trenton Board of Selectmen and is a former member of the Trenton Volunteer Fire Department. Jim and his fellow selectmen were named Economic Developers of the Year by the Finance Authority of Maine in 1998 for their efforts in developing the Trenton Business Park. Jim also served on the Board of Directors of the Down East Family YMCA from 1995 to 2002, sitting as Chair of the Board in 2002.
During Jim’s tenure with Bangor Hydro/Emera, Mahaney Diamond was upgraded with lighting for night games. The poles for the lights were donated by Bangor Hydro. In recognition of that, the University asked Jim, as a former player and Bangor Hydro employee, to throw out the first pitch at the first night game. “I was looking forward to that, but admittedly a bit nervous, even practiced throwing for a few weeks. Still threw it in the dirt, great save by the catcher!” Jim retired from Emera, Maine in 2012 after 42 years of service. Over his career at Emera, he held a number of positions. Starting as a line worker in 1971, Jim worked his way up the ladder to eventually hold a number of positions, including Safety Manager, Manager of Human Resources and Labor Relations, and retired in the position of Manager of Line Operations. Although retired, Jim has continued as a part time contractor with Emera overseeing various transmission and distribution projects in the Mount Desert Island / Bar Harbor area.