Ryan Cameron pitched for 10 years in the minor leagues, from 1998 to 2007, playing for teams in 10 cities for three organizations — the Rockies, Red Sox and Phillies.

His Red Sox years were 2003-04, when he pitched for both Double-A Portland and Triple-A Pawtucket.

The Portland Sea Dogs and owner Dan Burke made an impression on Cameron.

When Burke died on Oct. 26, Cameron contacted the Press Herald and asked if he could write about him.

We said sure.

The following comes from the computer — and the heart — of Ryan Cameron:

“I spent many years toiling through the minor leagues. Along the road, I played in some terrific towns, met some amazing people and forged some friendships that will last forever.

“I played in places like Reading, Pa. — Baseballtown as it is known for its passionate fans. I made it through Asheville, N.C., a quaint town where a hilltop stadium was once occupied by Babe Ruth himself. I stopped in Scranton, Pa., a coal miner region where the fans know about hard work, and supported their hometown team. And I was fortunate to play for the Pawtucket Red Sox, signing balls and programs lowered down to the dugout in buckets.

“I made many stops in those 10 years, but none compared to my experience in Portland, and playing for a gentleman named Dan Burke. From the day I showed up in Portland in 2003, I knew I was in a special place.

“The stadium had that small, yet big-time feel. The sounds, smells, and nooks and crannies were so unique.

“The showers were often chilly, but that was OK. You were greeted by fans with honest handshakes and you always knew that the people of Portland cared about you and their ball club.

“I lived with a Mainer named Tom Sheehan. His family was an example of that Maine reputation — kind, welcoming and warm. They gave me more than a place to lay my head that summer; they gave me a home.

“I met Mr. Burke early upon my arrival in Portland in 2003. I had been demoted from Triple-A in mid-July, and he came through the clubhouse late one afternoon, prior to a game I would be pitching that night.

“I was sitting in front of my locker while the team was out taking batting practice, and he walked right over, introduced himself and sat down next to me. I will be honest that I had no idea at first who he was. I Googled him afterward and was amazed to read about his background and more amazed to think that a man of his credentials had just spent an hour or so chatting with me about baseball and my career.

“I was most amazed at how sincerely interested he was.

“Mr. Burke opened his home to the team on an annual basis for a large lobster and steak dinner. This dinner took on its own sort of lore amongst minor leaguers who might make a stop in the Red Sox organization. Everyone knew about the lobster dinner at Mr. Burke’s. His driveway became a surf-and-turf buffet.

“The players enjoyed a feast with their families, and were often joined by Mr. Burke’s close friends, Mr. and Mrs. George H.W. Bush.

“I will never forget sitting down next to the former President of the United States, along with the former First Lady, and the retired chairman of ABC — sleeves rolled up, eating lobster and engaged in conversation with minor leaguers and their families. Like my playing days in Portland, it is something I will never forget.

“I was saddened by the news of Mr. Burke’s recent passing. I wanted to write this to say thank you to a man that meant so much to everything he was involved in. Mostly though, I wanted to say thank you to a man that made a special time in my life even more so through his genuine kindness. He was a Major Leaguer all the way, and I am proud to say that I knew and played for him.

“Thank you for everything, Mr. Burke.”

Staff Writer Kevin Thomas can be reached at 791-6411 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: ClearTheBases