When Davis Schneider stepped up to the plate in his first Major League Baseball at bat in August, ensuing events became a blur.
Swinging away on a 1-1 breaking pitch against Boston Red Sox starter James Paxton, the 5-foot-9-inch second baseman and Eastern High School alumnus uncorked a solo home run over the Green Monster at historic Fenway Park.
From being picked in the 28th round of the 2017 baseball draft by the Toronto Blue Jays, to that huge hit in Fenway, all Schneider wanted was a chance to play. Not only has he gotten that chance, he’s having one of the hottest starts by any hitter in Major League history.
“When I had my first at bat, everything kind of happened so fast,” Schneider recalled. “I don’t even remember taking a swing or anything like that. It just happened … That weekend, same thing.
“It was a really cool moment.”
Through the beginning of September and his first 21 games in the bigs, Schneider has the highest slugging percentage and on-base-plus-slugging percentage (OPS) of any hitter in MLB history, and is batting .403, with seven home runs and 19 RBIs.
His first weekend saw Schneider record nine hits in three games, the first player in MLB history to have such numbers in his first three big-league games. After reaching base four times on Sept. 8, he tied the modern-day record for most times on base through a player’s first 21 games by reaching base 46 times.
“What excites me most is that there is no one more deserving,” Eastern head baseball coach Robert Christ said. “Davis is such a good person. His character is phenomenal. He’s just a salt-of-the-earth-type kid and he’s got an amazing work ethic.”
Schneider’s journey began at Eastern, where he made varsity as a freshman and eventually played third base for the Vikings. He was one of the leaders of the school program, one of the best players in the Olympic Conference, and a budding star.
Scheider’s work ethic stood out to coaches, teammates, fellow students and educators throughout the high school. It influenced everything he did, including in the classroom.
“He did everything right,” Eastern Athletic Director Steven Picot recalled. “He had a great work ethic. He was a very polite kid, very respectful. Every single stereotype you can think of what you want of an athlete on and off the field, that was Davis.”
Even though he wasn’t drafted until the MLB’s 28th round, Schneider took the opportunity to prove himself. He signed with the Blue Jays and progressed through every level of minor-league play possible. But his six-year journey was not without hardship. Schneider even considered quitting, but a teammate convinced him to keep going.
It was a reinvigorated Schneider who got to where he is now.
“A friend of mine got called up before me and got a few at bats before he got sent back down to Triple A like a week later,” Schneider remembered. “He came back down and was like, ‘Literally, every day in the minor leagues had made it all worth it just to have one day up there.’ When he told me that, I was like, ‘if I ever make it, I just want to be there for one day, at least.'”
In the halls at Eastern are jerseys that represent some of the best players who went there. From field hockey to baseball, football to women’s soccer, the Vikings have a decorated history of athletic excellence that includes the NFL’s Logan Ryan and Eli Apple and field hockey Olympian Rachel Dawson.
And Davis Schneider.
“Seeing those names up there, it’s pretty cool because there’s been a lot of talent that’s come out of Eastern,” Schneider noted. “Now being one of those people, it’s pretty special, because when I was in high school, you walk through those halls every day, you see those jerseys up there and think, ‘Damn, that would be cool to be up there and be part of that group.'”
It’s likely Schneider’s Blue Jays’ jersey will be part of the school’s pantheon of athletes as the first Eastern graduate to play in the Majors Leagues.
“I think it’s an amazing accomplishment …” Picot observed. “Davis is a real hard worker, a really good kid, and I think for what we try to strive for at Eastern, it’s always a great opportunity to see our high-school athletes make it to the professional level …
“It’s amazing to still see these athletes come through Eastern.”
As for Schneider, he’s adapted to his evolving role with the Blue Jays. Since coming up, he leads the team in just about every offensive category imaginable, with 2.2 wins above replacement (WAR). That ranks Schneider with New York Yankees rookie shortstop Anthony Volpe, except Davis has played in 119 fewer games.
“I couldn’t digest it enough,” Christ acknowledged. “My family, we’re always trying to see what’s being said and any new interesting stories about Davis. It’s a great story on so many different levels … Davis has always been a good person, a good teammate, but he’s also always been the hardest worker on every team he’s been on. I think everyone wants to see someone like that rewarded.”
Schneider has been nicknamed Babe in Toronto, and Babe is the talk of the town, a fan favorite who has quickly become an American League Rookie of the Year candidate. But just getting an opportunity to create his own MLB story is all Schneider has wanted from the start.
“I played in the minors for six-and-a-half years and I had a lot of rough spots throughout those years,” he said. “Getting that call from the same organization that drafted you was a big deal …
“They want me to be here, so I have to take advantage of this opportunity.”