STILLWATER — Jon Littell smiled while recalling his first baseball memory.
At 3 years old, he was the only T-ball player in baseball pants on the field, but he made the most of his time in the dirt.
“I didn’t know what I was doing, but I was getting after it,” he said. “I was a little dirtbag out there.”
Now a senior at Stillwater High School, Littell has a pretty good idea what he’s doing. He’s one of the state’s top players — a hard-hitting outfielder at 6-foot-4 and 190 pounds who will play next year, either professionally or at Oklahoma State.
He said he will weigh his options following the season, but either destination is a step toward his dream.
“At an early age, I knew I wanted to be a big leaguer,” said Littell, the son of Oklahoma State women’s basketball coach Jim Littell. “I’ve worked my whole life to do that, and I don’t think there’s been any time through my whole career I’ve said I won’t be able to achieve that. I’ve thought since Day 1 I’m going to be a big leaguer, and I still think that.
“I want to play at the highest level, and I feel like I’ve put myself in a good enough position to get that opportunity.”
There was never any doubt about Littell’s competitiveness.
He showed it from that first time on the dirt fields in Liberal, Kan., and continued showing it each time he played with an older group alongside his older brother Jerame.
“He’s had a ball and a bat in his hand, a football or a basketball, ever since he was big enough to walk,” Jim Littell said. “It’s just been fun to see him evolve into a good athlete and a good player.”
Jerame Littell and Jon consider each other their best friend.
It was Jon’s freshman year that Jerame encouraged him to develop on the field, and it worked. Jon became a significant part of the Pioneers that season and his recruiting started taking off following that season.
Since then, he’s developed into the nation’s fourth-ranked outfielder in this year’s senior class, according to Perfect Game and 29th-ranked high school prospect.
“He was already good, but he continued to get better and he’s turned into one heck of a baseball player,” Jerame Littell said. “He’d always play up with me, so I think that gave him an advantage to always be playing bigger kids, stronger kids and he did great when he was up there. He’s just continued to get better and he wants to be good, and I think that’s one of the most important things.”
Jon, though, also credits his father for his development, saying a coach’s guidance was essential.
Jim Littell said he simply provided an avenue to work with great coaches such as Oklahoma City University assistant coach Keith Lytle, one of the nation’s top hitting instructors.
“You don’t really have any other choice but to get after it and get better every single day or you’re going to be left behind,” Jon said.
With that guidance, Littell has improved each season with the Pioneers, including hitting .402 with three home runs and 26 RBIs this season. He’s posted an impressive .514 on-base percentage behind 17 walks to go along with 16 stolen bases.
He’s also helped guide Stillwater to a 25-3 record and District 6A-4 championship heading into the postseason with a strong possibility of making the state tournament.
If the Pioneers win the state title, it would be a fitting ending to Littell’s development before moving on to the long-awaited bigger stage.
“Nobody really expected it to happen, but we did it as a team,” Littell said. “We set a goal to do this for a long time now. I think that could be the perfect ending to what we’ve all had for so long. I wouldn’t want anything other than that.”