SAN DIEGO – It took just a single swing of the bat for Daniel Camarena to etch himself into San Diego Padres’ folklore.
With the team trailing 8-2 Thursday night against Nationals’ ace Max Scherzer, the rookie reliever and Cathedral Catholic High School graduate belted a grand slam deep over the right field fence. The blast, also Camarena’s first career big league hit, ignited the Friars for a comeback in the game, which they later won, 9-8, on an RBI single by Trent Grisham in the ninth inning.
“That was awesome,” Camarena said after the game. “One of the coolest games I’ve been a part of, for sure.”
It was an unlikely and historic moment for the 28-year-old Bonita native. He is the first Padre ever to belt a grand slam for his first hit, and only the second pitcher ever to do it with the first coming in 1898.
Camarena was a 20th round draft pick of the New York Yankees out of high school in 2011. He signed a minor league deal with the Padres prior to the 2020 campaign.
“Last couple of years, I’ve been grinding, you know, to just keep my head afloat and keep my career going,” he said. “For something like this to happen was truly special.
Despite the roar of cheers at Petco Park, nobody was cheering louder than his mother, Consuelo, and his brother, Louie.
“To see him impact the game and to do what he did was just beyond anything,” Louie Camarena said. “I would have never in my wildest dreams ever thought I’d be able to say I witnessed what I saw. It was incredible the emotions that came with the moment. It was absolutely surreal.”
As he rounded the bases, Camarena pointed one finger upward toward the sky. Asked about the gesture, Louie said it is in recognition of their father who died in February 2019.
“As we’re continuing to heal and move forward with our lives, we can’t fathom a more powerful moment for Daniel to honor Dad,” Louie said.
Camarena’s big game also was special for Gary Remiker, his former coach at Cathedral Catholic.
“As soon as he hit it, I think the whole stadium knew and I definitely know my whole living room knew that ball was gone,” Remiker said. “My wife and I just started screaming and I think I broke down a little bit as he was rounding the bases.”
Remiker called Camarena “one of the most humble kids” he’s ever coached.
“Very respectful, very nice,” Remiker said. “Really hard-working kid.”