The Washington Nationals, who have already clinched their first-ever winning season, have been reaching milestones on a regular basis.
And so has Shawn Camp, a former baseball standout at and George Mason University.
Camp made the 500th appearance of his Major League career on Friday, Aug. 30 against the Giants, and he was given the scorecard from the game as a souvenir.
“I have to get it framed. It was a great day and we won,” said Camp, a 16th round pick of the San Diego Padres in 1997 out of George Mason.
Camp, 36, is in the area this week as a right-handed reliever for the Chicago Cubs, who are playing a four-game series with the first-place Nationals (83-52) through Thursday night.
“All of my good buddies are Nats’ fans. I am a big Caps’ fan,” said Camp, sitting by his locker before Tuesday’s game at Nationals Park.
Camp, who began his minor league career in 1997 and made it to the Major Leagues in 2004, grew up following the Orioles as a youth in Fairfax. He said this year’s success of the Nationals and Orioles “has really brought good baseball to this area. They have some great talent over there,” he said, motioning to the Nationals’ clubhouse, “and great pitching.”
Camp, while pitching for a struggling Cubs’ team that was 51-84 after Tuesday’s loss, has also been successful this season.
He had pitched in 69 games through Monday to lead the Major Leagues and was on pace to see action in 83 contests for the Cubs, which would be one game shy of the team record set by Ted Abernathy in 1965 and matched by Dick Tidrow in 1980 and Bob Howry in 2006.
“It seems like he is pitching all of the time,” Cubs infielder Adrian Cardenas said of Camp. “He comes in when he is asked. He is so consistent. He is one of the few veteran presences in the clubhouse.”
So how has Camp, who was 3-6 with an ERA of 3.72 with two saves through Tuesday, been able to stay effective as he approaches the age of 37 in November? “I worked hard this off-season,” he said. “You just have to know your body and stick to a routine.”
Among those that planned to see Camp and the Cubs this week against the Nationals was good friend and former GMU teammate Tom McGinn, who is a graduate of Lake Braddock High.
Before signing with the Cubs before this season Camp pitched for the Toronto Blue Jays from 2008 to 2011.
Camp made his big league debut with Kansas City in 2004 and pitched for Tampa Bay from 2006-07 before joining Toronto.
This is his first season in the National League and Camp said it has taken time to learn opposing hitters and the different strategies from the American League. “There is a lot more speed in the National League. It is like chess and checkers,” he said of the two leagues.