By: Eric Leary
Winning attracts winners. So it makes perfect sense that when given the chance, Davis Schneider, a 2017 grad out of Eastern Regional High School, in Voorhees Township, NJ, took advantage of an opportunity to be a Dirtbag when it presented itself. Prior to the summer of 2016, the right-handed hitting infielder was well aware of the Dirtbags and their reputation as an organization that competes for championships.
According to Schneider, the process of becoming a Dirtbag began with a teammate on a previous team whose dad knew Andy Partin, the founder and CEO of the Dirtbags. With that connection, the prospect to join the Bags became a reality. Needless to say, with the role Davis would go on to play with the Bags over the next summer and fall it was a good move for both parties.
Recalling the decision, Schneider stated, “Always knew Dirtbags were a great program. They had a winning culture and had previously been us.”
With the “if you can’t beat, join ‘em” seemingly in effect, Andy Partin was mighty glad about the Schneider contact, as he quickly realized the skills held by the player.
“I knew Davis was a really advanced hitter when we got him. But I didn’t realize how good of a defender he was at third base. He made some spectacular plays for us,” stated Partin.
Already committed to Rutgers when he came South to play with the Dirtbags, Schneider quickly found himself at home with his new teammates. The comfort he experienced on the club was undoubtedly due to some like-minded goals he shared with the squad. He also admits it allowed him to elevate his own game even more. Ultimately, Davis attributes the team’s demeanor and culture which strives to win back to Partin.
“He put that into us in every game and situation,” Schneider said of his Dirtbags skipper.
More specifically, Schneider says Partin was able to take instances and use them to build a successful program. While those moments in time could help cultivate an attitude for an individual, the collective result is a winning culture for the organization.
A prime example for Schneider occurred that summer. He remembers a game at a non-descript high school versus a team the Dirtbags should have easily beaten. They didn’t, and as their coach, Partin let them know who they were and how they should play. The moment left an impact on Schneider.
“He expected 100% everytime and we didn’t give it,” said Schneider.
Perhaps one of his best memories is connected to a great moment in Dirtbags history – winning the WWBA in the fall of 2016. Not only was he a member of such a prominent championship for the organization, Schneider was also named the MVP of the event. For him, the memories center on how happy everyone, especially Andy, was that they had accomplished the feat together.
When pressed, Schneider would single out one moment in particular. It was during the quarterfinals vs. a top-notch opponent with the score sitting at 0-0. During his at-bat in the 4th inning, Davis would jack a 3-run bomb down the line for what would be the game winner as pitcher Antonio Menendez tossed a complete game shutout.
Partin saw it all just fitting into the type of player the New Jersey product is, saying, “Davis was born to hit. Every time he stepped in the box you felt like something good was getting ready to happen. His WWBA MVP performance in Jupiter will go down in history as one of the best of all-time.”
But even beyond the winning and the awards, Schneider reminisced the relationships were the most beneficial product of his time as a Dirtbag. He further eluded to the connection between those relationships and the success the club experienced.
As he first met up with his team, Schneider says he felt like a loner initially but by the end of the summer he had found his place. He gives a lot of that credit to Kier Meredith, the captain of that group of Dirtbags.
“(Kier) put me under his wing and introduced me. He tied everyone together,” stated Schneider.
And those bonds have not been easily broken. Players from the team have stayed close and frequently use social media to keep up with Dirtbags and one another.
Going on, Davis remarked, “The friendships and memories will never go away, no matter what. Even after baseball. (Dirtbags) is not just about baseball.”
By Partin’s account, it was easy to see why such strong ties between Schneider and the Dirtbags grew. He said, “The kid loves to play the game. He always had that smile on his face and carried a quiet confidence about him. His coaches and his teammates loved him.”
Being a part of the Dirtbags was a big part of a baseball journey that is continuing for Schneider. After getting drafted by the Blue Jays in the 28th round in 2017, Schneider signed and is currently an infielder (now at 2B) in the Toronto farm system. He has spent time at Vancouver and Lansing, Michigan in previous seasons.
Looking back, Schneider admits when he had played against the Bags he didn’t much like them. But he recognized they played hard and he came to understand once he became a member of the fraternity, their style of play is a result of the collective desire to win.
Like many, Schneider was able to gain a new perspective once the events were seen through a different lens. In this case, the realization became both he and Dirtbags held the same point of view – winning is about the people.