Courtney Maybin, at right, is with three generation of a family from Sylva. They hold gifts a baseball glove, and Paw Patrol Zoomer Skye sound-interactive mechanical pup. Behind them are Xcel Sportsplex’s various air mattress rides. Photo by Pete Zamplas.
A month-and-half later on Dec. 17, 2005 T.C. Roberson grad Maybin delighted several families in Asheville at his annual Maybin Mission Holiday Project luncheon. Area youths each got several presents and a scrumptious meatball, chicken and pasta casserole.
The event shifted to Xcel Sportsplex’s gym in the Fletcher area near I-25 and I-26, and will stay there indefinitely, Cameron’s wife Courtney Maybin said. She noted Cam has trained in the off season at Xcel and its Parisi Speed School for five years.
Maybin Missions resumed a broader scope, taking applications for Holiday Project recipients from the Asheville-area. “We wanted to get back to the project’s original purpose, of helping families in western North Carolina,” Maybin told The Tribune.
“This is a special time, to get to help families. You feel the energy in here, and remember when you were a kid,” said 11-year MLB veteran Maybin, 30, a coveted free agent.
“Many people may not realize how loved they are. They’ve hit a rough road” such as sudden loss of a job, Maybin said. “We offer a support system, for some love and to take care of them at Christmas.”
The list of beneficiary families was smaller than last year, which enabled more gifts per child thanks to Maybin and other Maybin Mission donors. Further, whereas everyone got a pair of boots last year, this time there was no common gift.
Gifts were customized, and “nothing was left off wish lists,” Maybin noted. In all, eight families with 17 total children were at the luncheon compared to 32 last year, noted Maybin publicist Christina Coleman who came from New York City to help coordinate this event.
Last year, the second Maybin Holiday Project luncheon was at The Salvation Army Boys & Girls Club of Buncombe County gym where Maybin played as a youth. Guests were families from those groups.
This time as before, children grinned while opening their wrapped gifts. Jeremiah Freeman, 5, of Asheville, rejoiced over Nike sneakers even more than the PlayStation©4 game system. His brother Josiah turned eight a week earlier, and also opened gifts. Their one-year-old sister Tryphence tugged mightily on the family’s new bicycle, as their mother Traqoya Freeman pulled the other way.
The selected families typically face steepened economic hardships. In one case, two girls ages nine and six girls lost their mother Nov. 29. They said their grandmother has cared for them for the past two years. She (the grandmother) said her daughter-in-law died from a suspected overdose, and her son the father is estranged.
Cameron Keith Maybin helped feed other families earlier. Rudy and Renee Maybin’s son sparked a nationwide feeding frenzy by stealing a base Oct. 26, in game two of the World Series. As his father said, “we fed America.” By getting the Series’ first stolen base, it triggered a Taco Bell promotion of one free Doritos Locos sandwich during a four-hour stretch Nov. 1 from participating restaurants.
“What’s better than a win in extra innings?,” Maybin tweeted at 12:08 a.m. on Oct. 26. “Free @tacobell! Proud to be America’s #StealABaseStealATaco guy. You ALL get free tacos on 11/1!”
He further tweeted that in his young children’s eyes, “I’m now the coolest dad around.” He and Courtney have three young children.
Maybin’s stolen base was dramatic and critical in the 11th inning of a game Houston won in Los Angeles over the favored Dodgers, to even the series and take home advantage. The game was tied at five. Maybin led off with a sharp line-drive single to center, off of Brandon McCarthy. He then stole second base to get into scoring position.
Series MVP George Springer then slugged a two-run homer to deep right-center, en route to a W.S. record-tying five HRs. The two teams totaled a record 25 homers.
Proud poppa Rudy Maybin, among others, reasons McCarthy was distracted with Cam the go-ahead runner at second and a threat to steal third base. That likely helped Springer get a good pitch to blast. Cam Maybin entered the game in a “double-switch” with the pitcher, to ignite a rally and for defense.
In playoffs, right-hander Maybin got three hits in two starts at Boston then a hit at the N.Y. Yankees.
Game two exploded in late runs. Down 3-1, Houston scored a run each in the eight and ninth innings, then two in the 10th to lead 5-3. But the LAD matched the two runs. In the 11th, they got back one of two runs, and lost 7-6. Houston outhit the Dodgers 14-5.
The series went a full seven games. Houston won the clincher 5-1, in L.A. Nov. 1, for its first World Series triumph in its 56 seasons. The Astros lost 100 or more games in three years in a row ahead of 2014, but built a contender.
Maybin, who hit a career-best .315 in ’16 then .228 in ’17, has had ups and downs, too. “Believe in yourself, and you can go as far as you want in life,” is his motto.
Maybin told The Tribune winning a World Series felt both “exciting” and “humbling.” He said “I’ve done my time,” after a decade in the big leagues without even reaching playoffs. He was reunited for the second time with Hall of Famer-to-be pitcher Justin Verlander, whom the Tigers traded midseason. Verlander, Houston’s ace, also won his first title. Their championship rings are being designed.
Six-foot three Maybin is regarded as a top-end base stealer who can bat leadoff and field well. He was second-best in the American League, with 33 steals (29 with the Angels) — one behind K.C.’s Whit Merrifield. Maybin outdid two A.L. superstars he played with this year. He was one ahead of Houston’s Jose Altuve, and 11 better than the Angels’ Mike Trout. Maybin stole a career-best 40 bases in 2011 with San Diego.
His ten homers in ’17 matched his career best — set in ’15, with Atlanta.
Maybin is again a free agent. He said a handful of teams are showing interest, according to his agent. A year ago, he was traded by Detroit to the Angels in a dump of his $9 million one-year salary option. He reportedly ended with $1,573,760 due to the Angels’ $1 million buyout when putting him on waivers this summer. Houston signed him.
The center fielder is again a free agent. He will earn more if he is a projected starter. K.C. may lose CF starter Lorenzo Cain as a free agent. Bleacher Reports K.C. would match Maybin’s $5 million average — but for far fewer than the five years the Padres gave him in’13, when he was 26.
Courtney said it would be ideal if Cam played again in Atlanta near their winter home here. They typically rent instead of buy homes, in his team’s city. Wondering where Cam next plays “takes your mind off of it (holidays) a little bit,” Courtney said. She was glad to focus on Maybin Mission families, then the Maybins’ own Christmas.