By Paul Payton
Big 12 Campus Correspondent
Senior outfielder Jon Davis is having a tremendous season for Kansas State as the Juneau, Alaska, native is batting .345 with five home runs, 30 runs scored and 22 RBI. He is also having an impressive season so far in Big 12 play, as he ranks second in on-base percentage (.483), third in slugging percentage (.569) and tied for third in triples (three). His 30 runs scored and five home runs put him in a tie for fifth in both categories within conference play. Davis has already vastly improved on his stats from last season when he hit .316 with just one home run and 15 RBI.
Davis’ interest in baseball first began when his father let him play T-ball as a child.
“My father started letting me play T-ball when I was a child. I played a year younger than I was supposed to,” Davis said. “Although I played soccer and basketball, baseball was the most intriguing sport for me to pursue and I wanted to play in college. I worked really hard at baseball compared to other sports.”
In Alaska, there are long stretches of days when the sun does not set during evenings and when the sun does not rise during mornings. Because of this, baseball was not the only sport Davis enjoyed while growing up.
“I was an active child growing up. I played baseball in the summer, worked with my father on the boat and camped with the friends I grew up with,” Davis said. “I had a season pass to go skiing and snowboarding when school was out for the day. There was nothing better to do than snowboard with friends. When people are active up there, the seasons do not matter because there is so much to do.”
Davis was also involved with fishing as a child and still is now due to his father being an Alaskan fisherman.
“I drove boats when I was five years old. When I felt the time was right, I started fishing with my father and wanted to make money,” Davis said. “I did not want to work in a grocery store because I am not the type that wanted to work inside. I started working with my father when I was 10 or 11 years old. Every summer, I would help him out and keep the family business running. It requires a lot of working and attention to detail.”
The baseball team Davis watched the most is arguably one of the most liked and disliked teams in all of sports. His favorite baseball player in some circles is much more liked than his favorite team.
“When it came to baseball, my favorite team was the New York Yankees,” Davis said. “They were the team I saw the most in Alaska, and Shane Victorino of the Boston Red Sox is my favorite player. He has a similar style of play that I have.”
Once Davis moved to California and attended Vista High School in Vista, Calif., to get noticed by college baseball coaches in the continental United States, there was a major adjustment period involved.
“On the first day of school, I was a loner. My brother actually went to the same high school. I ran into some of his buddies which made it easier to make friends,” Davis said. “Some hated me because I made varsity on the second day I was there. When I started playing every day, I had no problems. The lifestyle was different from Alaska to California. I was not into the latest styles and I wore whatever I wanted to. People ended up making fun of me for that.”
There was not as much of an adjustment once he transferred from Palomar College in San Marcos, Calif., to Manhattan, Kan., to play for the Wildcats in 2012.
“Alaska is a rural area and California is the big city life. I wanted something different and Manhattan is not too fast of pace for me,” Davis said.
Although there was not much of an adjustment period when arriving at K-State, Davis did deal with adversity at the beginning the 2012 season. He may have started out the season with just one hit in his first 18 plate appearances, but he did not let that faze him.
“I had faced a lot more adversity in Alaska than facing a 1-for-18 to start the 2012 season,” Davis said. “I was trying too hard to impress the coaches. Eventually, I figured there was nothing else I could do that could go wrong, so I just went out and played. I worked hard every day at the chance to play again.”
The ability to not let his dismal start effect him was crucial in allowing him to have a strong finish to his season, while having a big impact on the team. Davis also has had an impact on head coach Brad Hill.
“He defines toughness. He does not move when he gets hit,” Hill said. “He is fun to be around and a unique individual, so he will make players smile and laugh. That is part of putting together a team.”
Hill knew that Davis would be a fit as soon as he arrived.
“He is a switch hitter, can play in the infield and could play in the outfield,” Hill said. “He is a versatile offensive player who was fast, so he fit into our system.”
Adapting is the biggest thing Hill believes Davis has improved since coming to K-State.
“The biggest thing he has improved on is his ability to adapt,” Hill said. “There are adjustments with the level of play as well as living here. He is someone you like being around and is one of my favorite players. He has done everything I have always asked him to do.”
All of Davis’ hard work allowed him to be the Big 12 Player of the Week during the week of April 8. While Davis was excited he won the award, he is taking it in stride.
“I hear a lot about it from my teammates but it is just another week to me,” Davis said. “I have to keep playing hard and not let that get to my head because it is one week out of a year that I do really well, and it happened to be one week I was recognized. I just want to play hard and do well, and if good things happen, they happen.”