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Published On: August 10th, 2014

By Nick Erickson, Media Relations

Photo by Rosalyn Zirngible

It doesn’t matter what base it is or how he gets there.

Whenever Daniel Salters gets aboard, whether it be by hit, walk or error, he points up to the sky to count his blessings.

And it’s all genuine, as a unique childhood experience has the Dallas Baptist catcher thankful for a lot of things.

From 1998 until 2006, Salters, the son of Christian missionaries, lived on the continent of Africa in the poverty-stricken countries of Kenya and Tanzania.

“You don’t realized how incredibly blessed you are,” Salters said. “It kind of gives me a different perspective than other people.”

It’s evident to anyone who has interacted with the power-hitting lefty, whose father was a pilot and drove other missionaries to carry out deeds to those who needed it most.

He’s always the first one to say hello, his smile is contagious and he evens shakes the hands of the umpire before each game.

“I grew up with a Christian family, and they raised me to love the Lord, and that shaped my whole childhood,” Salters said. 

While his skill is obvious, just ask the baseball he crushed for a walk-off home run on June 20 that found itself on the Carson Park tennis courts well beyond the right-field billboards, his character is what stands out to people in and out of the baseball world.

Salters didn’t start playing baseball until he got back to the United States, putting him a bit behind the eight ball for someone looking to make it to the highest stage.

After a successful high school career in his hometown of Eufaula, Okla., Salters played one year of junior college ball. That’s where Dallas Baptist head coach Dan Heefner first heard about him.

Heefner knew his talents were still being developed, but he also knew after a few visits with him that no matter how much he needed to develop some of the more fine-tune parts of the game.

“But then you get to know him and what kind of person he is and what his character and work ethic are like, that’s when you it was a slam dunk and this guy’s going to end up being really good,” Heefner said.

But Heefner, much like many Northwoods League pitchers have now discovered, also sees the baseball potential for Salters.

He’s a rare combination of power and finesse. Not only can he hit a ball 450 feet, but he can also take an 0-2 pitch the other way for a seeing-eye single, as he did in the Northwoods League All-Star Game on July 22.

He can also hop up out of his crouch behind the plate to throw a runner out, as he did Tuesday at the Northwoods League Big League Dreams Showcase Game in Madison.

And he’s still learning.

“The sky is the limit for him,” Heefner said. “We’ve had a bunch of players drafted out of our program and make it to the Major Leagues, and Daniel’s right there as far as his work ethic, character and talent level.”

That’s mighty high praise for a program that has seen the likes of Major Leaguers Ben Zobrist, Vic Black and Ryan Goins.

Baseball is a game that tests the patience of everyone who plays it. There will be nights a hitter simply can’t hit anything. There are nights where a pitcher can’t find the strike zone.

But Salters learned things in Africa that he carries with him to the dish to counter the frustrations of the game.

“In baseball, there’s ups and downs, and one thing I’ve learned, at least for me, I rely on the Lord, and he has a plan,” he said.

Big goals dominate Daniel Salters. And not just for himself, but for his team. Heefner said Salters leads by example and brings everyone around him up.

But individually, he is going to put in the work to become a first-round draft pick. Salters, who was picked in the 22nd round this year by the Washington Nationals, will continue to hone his game to make that a reality.

And no matter what round he’s picked in or what profession he ultimately pursues, one thing is for darn certain: he will answer the call and lift up those in his presence.