CAM PERRON has always been fascinated with sports. But it wasn’t the team, the score, or the game itself that got his attention; it was the stories of the athletes themselves. As a middle school student, Cam began writing letters to Major League Baseball players. Having collected baseball cards since elementary school, he began mailing his trading cards to athletes such as Duke Snider, George Kell, Bobby Doerr, and Sparky Anderson to get them signed by the legends themselves. He quickly learned that the current baseball players never responded, so his attention was redirected to retired athletes. Several hundred signed baseball cards later, Cam’s focus shifted towards a new path: veterans of the Negro Leagues. At first, he wrote numerous letters with the sole purpose of obtaining the players’ signatures, but he ended up acquiring much more than that. After uncovering the history of these players, Cam took it upon himself to help former Negro Leaguers get the recognition and reimbursement that they deserved.
Within six months, Cam quickly became obsessed with the Negro Baseball Leagues. He was fascinated with the unsung heroes of these leagues, who had such an historical experience, yet were so unrecognized in the world of sports. Cam’s correspondences quickly grew from handwritten letters to phone calls. By the end of the seventh grade, he was often talking on the phone for two to three hours per day with former Negro League ballplayers. He slowly became immersed in tracking down these former players; players who did not have baseball reference pages, or, in some cases, were not even known to be alive. He began making homemade baseball cards for players who never had them. He also started conducting extensive newspaper archive research to piece together the puzzle of a relatively undocumented period of history. Cam’s path eventually led him towards the Negro League pension program, a program offered by Major League Baseball which offered pension funds to those who played upwards of four years in the Negro Leagues.
By his freshman year in high school, Cam had begun organizing annual Negro League player reunions, where he was able to reconnect players who had been out of touch for over 50 years. Having begun as a hobby, Cam’s passion towards the Negro Leagues had now become much, much more. The first annual Negro League baseball player reunion was held in Birmingham, Alabama in 2010. At the age of fifteen, Cam’s involvement was instrumental in forming an annual get-together where players could congregate, share stories, and, most importantly, gain recognition for their achievements that were never acknowledged. He has now located over 100 previously undiscovered former Negro League players, dozens of whom congregate yearly at the Negro League baseball reunion in Birmingham, Alabama. He has also been instrumental in obtaining well over a dozen pensions for former Negro League players, a feat that had resulted in nearly $10,000 a year plus back payment for many players, a payout that was often life-changing.
Having co-organized the reunion for his entire high school career, Cam went on to study business management at Tulane University in New Orleans. He continued to write to players and speak with them on the phone regularly while attending college. Though often focused on school work, Cam maintained his childhood passion. Over the course of his college career, he traveled to dozens of players’ homes, hearing their stories, and assisting them in any way he could. Cam graduated from Tulane University in 2016, and even had a former player attend his graduation party.
Cam currently runs an e-commerce business in Los Angeles, California. He continues his Negro Leagues research and regularly communicates with former players. Over the past several years, he has participated in several school speaking engagements, has been featured as a TED guest speaker, and was spotlighted twice on HBO's Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel.