Words by Elizabeth Williams | Images by Justin Hunter
The game of baseball has always been a part of John Michael Knighton’s life. Starting as a competition between he and his brother Luke, baseball quickly turned into more.
“I’ve always had a passion for baseball. There was no plan B; I knew this is what I wanted to do for the rest of my life,” he says.
Knighton played the game growing up and throughout his four years at Walker High School. He then received a scholarship to continue his baseball career at Central Alabama Community College (CACC) in Alexander City, Alabama. While at CACC, Knighton’s team posted two impressive seasons. The Trojans finished the 2013 season with a 43-14 record and became the only Alabama team to win the JUCO National Championship. Individually, Knighton was 12-1 on the season and was named ACCC Pitcher of the Year.
In 2014, he was drafted in the 17th round of the MLB Draft by the Chicago Cubs. He played in the Cubs’ organization for four seasons and one season in the Frontier League with the Traverse City Beach Bums.
Once Knighton’s professional career ended, he did not take long to make his next move.
Knighton had worked at Bowen Baseball Academy in Dora with another former professional baseball player, Ricky Bowen, during his summers and weekends. He soon realized he could help other kids find the same passion for baseball that he had. In 2019, one of Knighton’s former teammates recruited him to be the pitching coach at Scottsboro High School. He spent three years at Scottsboro before receiving an offer to be the head coach at Meek High School in Arley, Alabama. Knighton jumped on the opportunity to return home and be closer to family.
Knighton now looks forward to following in the steps of his mentor and former youth pastor, Buster Howell, as he assumes the role of head coach at Cordova High School, where last year, the Blue Devils posted a 17-12 record.
“Cordova has had a really good baseball program for as long as I can remember,” Knighton says. “I plan to keep the tradition while also adding my own knowledge and culture to the team.” WL