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Ali Camarillo

Ali Camarillo becomes Texas A&M Cumbia King

Ali Camarillo has Aggies dancing to Omaha

Even along the California-Mexico border, Ali Camarillo never moved a crowd quite like he has at Texas A&M. The Aggies’ junior shortstop was merely trying to be a little different in a world in which rap music and country songs dominate walk-up playlists.

Yet, in Central Texas Camarillo has moved one of the most passionate fan bases in college sports with a catchy Mexican cumbia, a slick glove and a solid bat. Camarillo literally has the 12th Man shaking maracas and dancing to Omaha, Neb., to the tune of “El Tao, Tao.”

He committed to Texas A&M without ever stepping foot on the College Station campus. The Cal State Northridge transfer was sold almost immediately by head coach Jim Schlossnagle’s track record and commitment to winning. 

After learning about Texas A&M’s vaunted 12th Man, the slick-fielding shortstop from Chula Vista, Calif., was sold on Aggieland. Even after watching videos of the 12th Man at Kyle Field and Blue Bell Park, though, he never imagined becoming a fan favorite.

“I just knew they were winners and we were going to win a lot of games,” Camarillo says. “I just knew this coaching was going to win us a lot of ballgames.”

The Aggies (49-13) have definitely won a lot of games this season. They are heading to Omaha to play in the College World Series as the No. 3 seed. Texas A&M will open its eighth College World Series appearance Saturday night against Florida.

From Williamsport to Omaha

Camarillo, a junior transfer, has been on a big stage before. He played in the 2016 Little League World Series in Williamsport, Penn., with the Chula Vista All-Stars coached by his father Jorge. 

He didn’t gain a cult following, however, until this season with the walk-up song he has used since his senior year at Otay Ranch High along the California border with Mexico.

The 6-foot-1, 180-pounder had the 12th Man dancing almost immediately after he strolled to the plate as Mexican cumbia “El Tao, Tao” played on the public address system. Despite the growing number of Mexicans and Latinos in college baseball, he was the only batter in the Southeastern Conference using “El Tao, Tao” as a walk-up song.

Within a week or two, A&M fans started bringing maracas – real and inflatable ones – to Blue Bell Park to shake when Camarillo went to the plate. Ali Camarillo had never attended a college football game until he arrived at Texas A&M.

His former school didn’t even have a football program. He was in awe when he saw the atmosphere at Kyle Field in the Fall. Blue Bell Park may be smaller than Kyle Field, but the 12th Man support is just as passionate for baseball. 

Bigger audience at Aggieland

“Last year at my old school I got the crowd going, but there were only 20 people,” he said of CSUN. “In the first game (at A&M) everyone kind of liked it because it was something different. I don’t think the fans had heard it.

“Two and three weeks in, I saw the maracas. I love how they celebrate me, and it gives me confidence when I step to the plate.”

Jorge Ali Camarillo is proud to share his Mexican culture with the 12th Man. He was born on the other side of the border with Tijuana, Mexico.


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His father was born in Tijuana. Camarillo’s mother Delma was born in Chula Vista to Mexican parents. Ali has spent countless days in Mexico with his parents for long holiday breaks in the interior of the country and quick jaunts across the border. 

Camarillo loves his Mexican roots. He takes pride in representing his gente in major college baseball. Although Texas A&M is the largest university that has gained Hispanic Serving Institution designation, he hasn’t seen a lot of Camarillos during his time in Texas.

Ali Camarillo proudly represents his roots

“It means a lot to me,” Ali Camarillo says of representing his Mexican roots. “You don’t see a lot of last names like mine over here in Texas. It’s different. I think my whole life I’ve tried to be different. Being able to represent the culture is all that is very important to me.”

Camarillo is one of two Mexican Americans expected to play key roles for the Aggies at the College World Series. Fellow junior Chris Cortez is a hard-throwing righthander who struck out a career-high 10 in 5 2/3 innings of scoreless relief to win Game 1 of the Super Regional against Oregon. 

Camarillo and Cortez, who was born in Las Vegas, have adjacent lockers at Blue Bell Park. They’ve built a tight bond this season at A&M. Cortez, who helped A&M reach the College World Series as a freshman two years ago, wasn’t surprised by the 12th Man’s reaction to “El Tao, Tao.”

Ali Camarillo
COLLEGE STATION, Texas – June 09, 2024 – Infielder Ali Camarillo of the Texas A&M Aggies during the NCAA Super Regional game between the Oregon Ducks and the Aggies at Blue Bell Park. Photo by Sydney Stevenson/Texas A&M Athletics.

“I love Spanish music,” Cortez said. “I think he wanted to find something everybody can get behind and get the stadium interacting with the music. He has pretty much the entire stadium dancing.”

Camarillo has started all 62 games this season for the Aggies. He’s hitting .297 with seven home runs, 12 doubles and 35 RBIs. He has a .967 fielding percentage with only seven errors.

On Saturday, he’ll make his College World Series debut and introduce the fans in Omaha, Neb., and a national audience on ESPN to El Tao, Tao.

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