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Casey Blake: A Hit in His Community

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Blake Lead4

A four sport star in high school, a three-time Division I NCAA All-American, two-time Academic All-American, 13 year Major League baseball player, and the preeminent charitable human being in his community, Casey Blake excelled in between the white lines on the field, and he swung for the fences off the diamond where he became a generous humanitarian, a pillar of his appreciative community.

However, the stockpiling of his impressive accolades nearly reached an end after leaving college at Wichita State. Blake had a rocky start and a “Rockie” ending (more on that to come) to his professional baseball career. In fact, he was unable to play in more than 19 games in any big league season until he reached the age of 30. Refusing to quit, Blake received inspiration outside his dugout to keep his Major League Baseball dream alive.

“I had many supporters back home encouraging me to keep at it. My dad was probably the biggest encourager, constantly sharing his own personal experiences with pro ball,” Blake said.

“For example, while playing in AAA, he told my mom that maybe it would be better to be back home in Indianola raising the family. The next week he had a career ending elbow injury. He didn’t want that to be me.  He would tell me that I could come home and sell insurance for a couple weeks and see how it compares to playing a game of baseball.”

Once Blake was able to become an everyday player, he averaged 22 home runs and 75 RBI for five seasons (2003-08) as a third baseman and outfielder. Blake debuted in the major leagues in 1999, with the Toronto Blue Jays. After brief stays with Minnesota (Twins) and Baltimore (Orioles), he became a regular with the Cleveland Indians in 2003, until being traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2008. After his four years with the Dodgers, he played in Spring Training for the Colorado Rockies. When the Rockies decided not to have Blake on their opening day roster, he retired from Major League Baseball in 2012.

The pinnacle of Blake’s career happened when he was with the Indians. “In 2007, it was late in the season, and the Tigers were on our heels in the division race.  In the first game of a 4-game series, I hit a walk-off homer in extra innings,” Blake said. “We went on to win the AL Central. That was the most excited that I’ve been on a baseball field and the only time in my career that I showed emotion rounding the bases after a homerun.”

Blake played baseball in some big cities, but he never forgot his roots. He and his wife, Abbie, have six children and they make their home in Indianola. This small town in Iowa is occupied by a mere 15,000 residents. Casey and Abbie are more than just residents of Indianola; they are pillars in the community. They went above-and-beyond by donating $1 million to the Indianola School District and challenged the community to match it. If that was not generous enough, the Blakes participated in multiple fund raisers to help the community raise the $1 million.

“After we made our donation, we didn’t want to be the people that just gave their money and bolted. We wanted the community to match it so bad that we were willing to get our hands dirty and join our unbelievable ICYF (Indianola Community Youth Foundation) board and the fundraising committee,” Blake said.

Blake Fieldhouse

Blake Fieldhouse

The aforementioned charitable funds gave root to a 30-thousand square foot facility for the youth of the community that has five volleyball nets, two jogging tracks, and 16 basketball hoops in what is aptly named, Blake Fieldhouse. “It (the Blake Fieldhouse) added some much needed gym space to our community and created opportunities for our youth to practice and play and be kids,” Blake said.

Casey Coaching the Kids

Casey Coaching the Kids

The philanthropy did not end there as he put on the Casey Blake Baseball Camp to help the youth of Indianola to learn the game of baseball. “The baseball camp was another fundraiser idea. We focused on basic fundamentals of baseball and tried teaching correct technique within those fundamentals,” Blake said.

A cook book entitled Scoring with Kids in the Kitchen Home Run Hits featured the Blake family and was another fundraiser for their foundation. The cook book promoted good nutrition and activity, while involving the youth.

Blake has also attended the last three Character Counts banquets as one of the celebrity guests. “I am a huge fan of this program because it helps instill positive behavior among our youth. Unfortunately, in today’s broken world filled with broken families, these positive behaviors are rarely being reinforced at home,” Blake said.

As a player, Blake left it all on the field. As a citizen, Blake continues to hit grand slams. His willingness to give back to his community, coupled with his desire to keep the youth active and healthy, definitely deserves a tip of the cap.

Blake Giving to community

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4 Comments - (Leave a comment! »)

  • Lisa Thomas said:

    Great job and I know for a fact it is very hard work working in any cooking situation. Keep up the good work and God bless.

  • Mike said:

    My hat is off to Mr. Casey Blake and his family.

    It’s with absolute immodesty and no small voice when I say that folks like this are far too few and too far in between.

  • Shaina – Tennessee said:

    I have spent this evening perusing your website, and am excited and encouraged! I read through many of the articles, from Casey Blake and his love of baseball as well as his community, to Justine, a beautiful young lady, determined to rise above her circumstances, and bless others along the way. I find your website, and the premise surrounding its focus, to not only be a light to the online community, but also a wonderful opportunity to promote hope and inspiration.

  • Denise -Iowa said:

    i was “candy lady” to the young blake’s while my son was catcher to ben blake’s pitching. i am so very proud of casey and the rest of the blake family. also abie came from my hometown, albia. good story

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