By McKenzie Benoit
Big 12 Campus Correspondent
Humble, polite, and soft-spoken may represent Kansas State junior walk-on Tyler Moore’s personality, but his play on the field is quite different.
The Shawnee, Kansas native has made heads turn this season as he has done what most children dream of doing when they find a passion for a sport – become a Division I athlete.
“Baseball has been a part of my life ever since I can remember. I probably started playing baseball in kindergarten,” said Moore. “My brother, who is five years older than me, played baseball and I wanted to be just like him. When I watched him play, I just thought that it looked like a blast. I ended up falling in love with the game.”
The Mill Valley High School product was a multi-sport athlete up until high school when he decided that his future in baseball seemed inevitable.
“Baseball has always been his love and dream,” said former Wildcat volleyball player and Tyler’ mother, Linda Moore. “I started saying a few years ago that some people are able to accomplish their dreams if they set their mind to it– he just chose to go for it.”
Hard work beats talent – Moore is proof of that. His path to the top is not what all Division I student-athletes’ aspire, as he took a chance out of high school to go play at Coffeyville Community College in Coffeyville, Kansas.
“I could not imagine not going to a junior college out of high school. It was perfect for me,” said Moore. “Maybe if I would have got Division I offers, like Kansas State, out of high school then I would have come here, but Coffeyville was an amazing route.”
As a sophomore at Coffeyville, Moore received second team all-conference selection. He saw action in all 56 games as catcher for the Ravens and hit .363 with three home runs and a team-high 55 RBIs. He ranked second on the team in both walks (30) and runs (51).
“Having four seasons of fall and spring ball at Coffeyville really prepared me very well for the next level of competition. I got a lot of repetitions at catcher. Out of high school I was not necessarily the best player, but playing at the junior college level made me into the player that I am today,” said Moore.
To make it as a Division I student-athlete there are a lot of blood, sweat and tears that simply go unnoticed. Coffeyville was one of those steps that gave Moore the opportunity to catch the eyes of the K-State baseball coaches.
“[Moore] wanted to come play Division I baseball. He did not have any Division I offers. He loves Kansas State, and wanted to come be a part of it,” said associate head coach and offensive coordinator Andy Sawyers.
Kansas State seemed like a natural choice for Moore, not because of his mother being a proud K-State alumna or the fact that he had lived and breathed purple his whole life – it was an opportunity to go after his dream in a place that he could call home.
“I thought this (Kansas State) was the perfect fit for me. The family atmosphere is incredible. It is truly amazing,” said Moore. “K-State gave me an opportunity to go after my dream of playing Division I baseball – what more could I ask for?”
The difference between who you are and who you want to be is what you do. Moore made sure not to take this possibility lightly. He had a mindset that he was going to make it in the big leagues and so far, he has surpassed the expectations of every single person who could not see it in him before his time at K-State.
“I just wanted to prove everyone wrong. I did not get many other offers out of junior college, but I had nothing to lose,” said Moore. “I wanted to come here and do my best and earn my spot on the team. I wanted to show what I had to help this team be successful. I believed that I could do that and that is why I came here – I am glad I did.”
Moore may not be the five-star recruit that everyone was buzzing about, but the walk-on junior is a force to be reckoned with this season. He is the type of guy you want on your team. He gives nothing but his best.
“He shows up every day with a blue-collar mentality. He works, and he grinds. He does whatever he is asked to do,” said Sawyers. “He shows up every day with a great attitude and good work ethic. And this is a young man that showed up as a walk-on. He wanted to come play Division I baseball.”
Now six months later, Moore is the starting catcher and hitting cleanup in some lineups after being forced to step up to the plate when junior catcher Alex Bee suffered an injury in February.
For Moore, it was nothing that he could not handle.
“I enjoyed coming in and being able to play catcher. It was tough, though, having Alex (Bee) out while playing all of those games,” said Moore.
Moore’s dual threat play at the plate and behind it has not gone unseen. He was acknowledged as Big 12 Newcomer of the Week on March 9 and after a stellar week against the likes of Minnesota and Arkansas State, Moore earned his first Big 12 Player of the Week honor.
Moore has continued to improve his batting average over the course of the season, ranking near the Big 12’s top-10, while he is also ninth in slugging percentage.
“Catcher is not easy because you are tired; you get beat up. Your hands are beat up, and your knees are beat up. [Moore] has just found a way to be very productive offensively,” said head coach Brad Hill. “Usually an offensive catcher is not very good defensively, and we feel like we have the luxury of him being both. He is a good offensive player and a very good catcher. He has done a really good job for his first year, kind of grinding through this thing.”
Moore has helped the Wildcats advance their season record to near .500 as he and his teammates look for a chance to compete in the Big 12 Championship in Tulsa, Oklahoma next week.
“We were picked dead last in the Big 12 at the beginning of the year. We had nothing to lose,” said Moore. “I think we have proved a bunch of people wrong. We just have to be confident, have fun and play our game every single time.”
The Wildcats have done just that. For example, the Wildcats upended No. 3 TCU for a series win in April, the Wildcats’ first series win against a nationally-ranked top-three team since 2009.
Moore’s competitive drive and love for the game is an advantage in his own personal game, but his will to lead the way is what sets him apart from the rest of his competitors.
“One thing that I have always been very proud of Tyler for is he has never got caught up in peer pressure. Other people around him would be doing things and he would never feel the need to do those things to stick out or fit into the crowd,” said Linda. “He just does not see that for himself. I think he sees different for himself. He has just always wanted to do something a little bit different and leave his own path. He is comfortable in his own skin. He is very much into his team and teammates.”
Moore is the glue that holds this team together. His work ethic, demeanor, passion, and love of the game makes him the story that everyone will be talking about for a long time.
“When it’s all said and done, Moore is going to have a phenomenal career at Kansas State. All he came for was an opportunity; he came for a chance to make the team. And he has parlayed that into being our starting catcher,” said Sawyers. “He has the respect of his teammates. He is probably our biggest power threat. I always say, ‘A moving barrel is a powerful thing,’ and Tyler gets in there and takes his hacks. He can really play.”
Moore has been doubted and tested throughout his journey of aspiring to become a Division I student-athlete, but he never gave up. He continues to follow his dreams and has the courage and heart to pursue them.
“All you have to do is follow your dreams. When I got that opportunity here to walk on, I took the chance and went for it,” said Moore. “It is scary to take a chance, but with a little hard work and determination, anything is possible.”