He's so relentlessly upbeat that he refuses to let the Mariners' loss to the New York Yankees in the American League Championship Series cast a shadow over Seattle's record-setting season. When a visitor asks if not having won the World Series is a black mark against the Mariners, Cameron pulls out his cell phone, which has been programmed to flash the number 116 on the display screen. "We'd all love to win the World Series, but I don't care," he says. "Out of all the things people have done in this game, only two teams did what we did. Winning 116 games is unheard of."
As soon as the Mariners were eliminated, Mike and his family—wife JaBreka; sons Dazmon, 4, and Mehki, four months; and daughter T'aja, 2—moved into their new house in McDonough, Ga., and he settled into what he calls his couch-potato lifestyle. Mike and JaBreka, who went to high school together, have been married three years.
Mike devotes much of his off-season time to community work. His foundation, Cam4Kids, distributes money to several children's charities in Seattle. He has also cowritten, with noted children's book author Greg Brown, a book for kids titled It Takes a Team. It will come out this month, and proceeds from its sale will benefit Cameron's foundation. Cameron also has plans to restore the community recreation center in La Grange that he went to as a youth and to create a baseball camp there. "I want to get something going for these kids here to help keep them out of trouble," he says.
His project in the days before he left for Japan? Lining up a shipment of 98 pairs of Nike turf shoes in case the Grangers played that semifinal in the Georgia Dome. (They played and won, and went on to take the state title a week later.) Branch says, "Mike told me years ago, 'When I really make it, I want to do something for this school and this town.' He's never really left here."