When Peabody native Mike Davis began playing baseball at the age of four, he fell in love with the sport. Ever since then, Davis has dreamed of playing baseball at the professional level.
This summer, Davis’ dream came true.
Davis, a Bishop Fenwick and Salem State alum, spent his summer playing professional baseball in Maine with the Old Orchard Beach Surge of the Empire League. The Empire League is a four-team independent professional baseball league, set to expand to six organizations next year.
A left-fielder for the Surge, Davis played in 49 games this summer. He posted a .254 batting average with four home runs and 27 RBI in 181 at-bats. Davis also totalled 10 doubles and scored 33 runs.
The key to his success at the plate in his first season playing pro baseball, Davis said, was establishing a patient approach in each of his at-bats.
“I became more patient over my last couple years in college,” Davis, a three-year varsity player at Fenwick, said. “I had a more patient approach at the plate, a set plan going up. Other times, I didn’t have a plan at the plate. As I got older, I realized that pitchers are just as smart as the hitters. Having a set plan allowed me to have a better approach at the plate.”
Davis found his way to the Surge after a stint in the Puerto Rico Instructional Baseball League. The former Crusader spent a month this past winter showcasing his skills in the PRIBL in Rincon, Puerto Rico, and earned a contract offer from the Surge shortly thereafter. He signed with the team in May.
“It has always been something that I’ve dreamed of, ever since I was a kid,” Davis said. “I was lucky to be able to showcase my skills. It’s a blessing to be able to play competitively and showcase my skills. Not many people are able to do that. It was just awesome and a blessing.”
Old Orchard Beach had a strong season in 2017, reaching the league finals where the Surge fell in a five-game series to the Plattsburgh RedBirds. Although it took the Surge a while to find their rhythm, the team clicked towards the second-half of the season and never looked back.
“In the beginning of the year, we were still trying to find our connection with each other,” Davis said. “The second half of the season, we really came together. We started to play as a team and everything came together for us. Everything clicked for us towards the end of the season.”
Despite the challenges that come with jumping from college baseball to the professional stage, Davis proved to be successful in tackling those tasks. He acknowledged that there were bumps along the way throughout his season, but the ups and downs helped him improve as a player.
“In college, I faced a lot of good players,” Davis said. “Jumping from the college level to the pro level was completely different. Some of these guys had experience in the professional level, some of them played A-ball or in other leagues. They already had a taste of what pro baseball is like.”
“I struggled at times, but I think it got the best out of me,” Davis added. “It showed me what it’s going to take if I want to get better and move on, if I want to keep playing in these types of leagues.”
In his days wearing the orange and blue Salem State uniform, Davis was a key contributor to a Vikings team that emerged as a consistent MASCAC contender. Davis isn’t the only Viking player currently chasing a career in the pros as Richie Fecteau, one of Davis’ former teammates and a past North Shore Navigator, is now in the Los Angeles Angels organization. Fecteau was drafted by the Angels in 2016 and promoted to Single-A Burlington (Iowa) of the Midwest League in July.
Davis and Fecteau still stay in contact as they chase their pro baseball aspirations.
“Richie was one of my best friends at Salem State,” Davis said. “We talk all the time about the different things we see. If I’m struggling with something, I always reach out to him. It’s good having him and I’m rooting for him every step of the way. It’s tough because we’re busy all the time but we try and keep tabs on each other as much as we can.”
After seeing his dream come true this summer, Davis offered words of advice for those who have similar aspirations of playing baseball professionally. The key, Davis said, is being ready for the moment once it arrives.
“I would tell them to never give up and keep dreaming what you’ve been dreaming since you were a kid,” Davis said. “Go out and play as hard as you can. If it’s meant to be, it’s meant to be. Someone’s going to be watching you. The opportunities are going to come and you have to be ready when they do come.”