Everyone loves the story of an underdog. Or in the case of Miracle Maples, an entire team of them.
“Maples is that season in time where this magical thing happened that you would see in a movie,” said T.C. Cameron, author of the book, which was released in January. “It really was this little, niche story that kind of took everyone by storm for a few months in ’88.”
Including Cameron, who watched the Maple's season unfold from a rival high school, Royal Oak Kimball, where he was a senior. Like many, he thought the Birmingham Seaholm Maples wouldn't be able to take the state title.
Then they did.
To tell the full story, Cameron’s book is split into sections on five Seaholm players, one Kimball player, and both school’s coaches at the time.
Like most good stories, if Seaholm is the hero then who becomes the villain? For Cameron – who now lives in Maryland but grew up in Royal Oak and Birmingham – that was, somewhat ironically, Kimball, a huge rival that Seaholm had to overcome in order to continue their success and get to the state title.
Now, 30 years later, Cameron has published a book that not only focuses on that miracle season but its aftermath. What happened to a group of 15 young men after they won a state title and felt like they were on top of the world at all of 18?
“My core requirement was you had to be brutally honest about everything, the good and the bad,” Cameron said. “This couldn’t just be your 'greatest hits album.'”
Turns out some would be chasing that high of winning for years – they did, after all, win the school’s only state championship in baseball, a title they still hold – while others went off the mountaintop with more ease.
Cameron said the reactions were mixed from the people he interviewed after he told them he wanted brutal honesty. Some were fine with it, others were hesitant, and a few were willing to open up after hearing their teammates had.
“It wasn’t exactly, 'lets jump in off the dock with two feet,'” he laughed. “There was some trust that had to be built...and then I think I had to be willing to make good decisions on what belonged in the book and what didn’t.”
It seems he made the right call with what he wrote, though. He said at least seven or eight of them have read the book so far, and given him positive feedback.
This isn’t Cameron’s first time writing about sports, or even writing an entire book about them. He’s published two books on metro Detroit’s high school football and basketball rivalries, as well as one book about Navy football. He was also a reporter at the Capital Gazette in Maryland, where he worked from 2009-2015 and covered sports. Currently, he’s working on books about the Baltimore Orioles under Peter Angelos’ ownership and another on the June 2018 shooting at the Gazette.
Like most authors, Cameron hopes people leave with a few takeaways after reading Miracle Maples.
“The number one takeaway for me is that school sports and activities still matter,” Cameron said. “The second thing is I hope people realize the lessons learned in high school can be transformative for adults if you allow them to be.
“The third thing is we have some great stories in our communities that we should celebrate. Stories matter,” he continued.
Especially when they involve an underdog – or 15.