Mason’s new baseball coach brings a major league foundation

Shawn Camp. Photo by Mason Athletics

As the new coach of George Mason University’s baseball team, Shawn Camp has a wealth of knowledge from which to pull.

Not just because of his 11-year major league career as a pitcher, but because he played, as he said, under two of the game’s most prominent managers: Cito Gaston with the Toronto Blue Jays and Joe Maddon with the Tampa Bay Rays.

From Gaston, Camp said he will take an open-door policy.

“But if you went into his office,” he said of Gaston, “you’d better own up to the things you’ve done wrong.”

From Maddon, it’s being a players’ coach. “He could talk to you about anything,” Camp said.

Underlying everything is Camp’s long-time relationship with Bill Brown, who stepped down in July after 41 years leading the Patriots and who has known Camp since he was a 9-year-old attending Brown’s baseball camp.

“I consider him a good friend, and he’s been a mentor to me,” said Camp, 46, who spent the past two seasons as the Patriots pitching and associate coach. “I wouldn’t be here today without him and his leadership.”

Camp’s ties to Mason are deep.

A Fairfax, Virginia, native, he played for Mason from 1995-97. He also finished his sociology degree in 2021, something he said was important to him as he took classes throughout his playing career.

“It’s like my life has come full circle,” Camp said. “This is where I started as a 9-year-old kid running around the field and field house at Bill Brown baseball camps and playing for a man I absolutely looked up to.”

Coach Shawn Camp at a game
Coach Shawn Camp. Photo by Mason Athletics

As for the type of team Camp wants to build, he says it starts with players who want to play for each other and who can support a strong clubhouse. He also wants speed and athleticism so that pitchers are confident the defense behind them will do its job.

But Camp also knows he has a job to do beyond recruiting and helping his assistants fine-tune the on-field product.

“You have to be real to them,” he said of the players. “How I personally earn their trust, I’m up front and honest with them. My door is always open to them. Players want to feel they can talk to you about certain things, not always about baseball. I tell them all the time, ‘What you do with your life is more important to me than on the field.’ “

“Shawn is an energetic leader who we believe will continue to build upon the outstanding foundation created by his mentor, Bill Brown,” Mason Director of Athletics Brad Edwards said. “Since joining Mason, Shawn has made an indelible mark on the program. He has helped develop a culture of accountability while prioritizing achievement both on and off the field.”

Whether the team can build on last season’s 13-12 record, which included an 11-7 streak before two losses eliminated it from the Atlantic 10 tournament is yet to be seen. It will also be fun to see if Camp uses any of the tricks Maddon employed to keep things light with the Rays, such as super hero days, when players on road trips dressed like their favorite super hero.

Camp wouldn’t hint, but did say, “I’ve got a couple of tricks up my sleeve.”

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