Senior staff writer
The first place that former Southport High School baseball star Cameron Perkins visited was home after his arrival in Indianapolis at 4 a.m. Monday with his Triple-A Lehigh Valley teammates.
The 25-year-old major league hopeful visited with family in Perry Township early Monday, then rested and arrived at Victory Field for indoor batting practice before the first of a three-game series against the Tribe.
He had plenty of time Tuesday in Southport after opening a three-game series. The Tribe fell to the IronPigs 4-0 Monday in front of 9,816 spectators.
Perkins visited Tuesday with Southport baseball coach Scott Whitlock and stopped by the Cardinals’ indoor hitting facility, where a banner displays Perkins’ name and his affiliation with the Philadelphia Phillies, who drafted him out of Purdue University in 2012.
“Southport was a big part of my baseball career,” Perkins said. “I had a great time and learned a lot and improved a lot. It sent me forward to Purdue. I’m glad to be back in town and see old coaches and old friends.”
Perkins and the IronPigs (56-40) end their only series this season at Victory Field today at 1:05 p.m.
Perkins, the Indiana high school single-season (.727) and career batting record holder (.628), entered the series hitting .287 and enjoyed a 15-game hitting streak earlier this season. He drove in the go-ahead run for the International League All-Stars in their recent 4-2 win against the Pacific League All-Stars in Charlotte, N.C.
“It (Triple-A All-Star game) was great, but I’m not in this for individual awards,” Perkins said. “I enjoyed it. The atmosphere was a little different at the plate because it didn’t have the flow that a normal game would. You get to play on the team with the characters that you play against during the season.”
Perkins has a simple approach to baseball: “Baseball is baseball ... doesn’t matter if you’re playing high school or Triple-A. It’s the game that I’ve been playing all my life. I go out there and play every day, help whatever team I’m playing for and go about my business.”
He reached the IronPigs two years ago but was at AA Reading (Pa.) last season when he suffered back pain late in the season. His minor league career average is .279 with 31 home runs and 228 RBIs.
Perkins understands the challenges of each level of baseball.
“The higher you go up, the smarter the hitter you have to be,” he said. “Pitchers are a lot smarter, and they control their pitches.
“I try to keep it (hitting) as simple as possible. This game is so complex, like a chess game. So the dumber you can make it, the easier it is for me. I try to find a good pitch and put a good swing on it. As soon as you start thinking in the batter’s box, you’re beat; the ball is right by you. It works for me but it might not work for all the guys.”
His homecoming goal was just the same as it was in 2014: he just tries to make the best of it.
No wonder he likes coming back to Victory Field. He hit a towering home run into the trees beyond the left field spectator walkway while leading the Cardinals to their second consecutive Marion County tourney championship in 2009.