I just wanted to share an email I received from Joe Blanton's college coach after his start against the Dodgers in the NLCS. Perhaps there is hope.
I enjoyed your column about last night’s game and Joe Blanton’s “gutty” performance after 17 days in waiting.
I was Joe’s coach at the University of Kentucky. Joe’s dad was a sophomore catcher on my high school baseball team when I was a senior. Joe pitched three years for that same high school (Edmonson County HS) before transferring to Franklin-Simpson HS. He shattered most of my pitching records at ECHS. Another interesting thing about Joe, he has always been a Wildcat…..ECHS were Wildcats, Franklin-Simpson were also the Wildcats and, of course, the University of Kentucky were the Wildcats.
You were right about Joe, he is willing to serve any role that helps the team and he never complains. At UK, he was in the bullpen most of the time as a freshman. He had that fierce competitiveness even then as a 19 year old. Brandon Webb was in the rotation, then. He was never afraid of pressure situations. Of all of the pitchers I ever coached (14 of my former pitchers have pitched in the major leagues), Joe was the toughest guy to get the ball out of his hand when it came time to take him out. To be honest, there were times I left him in a bit too long just because I knew that it would be so hard to go out and get the ball from him! There was never a confrontation, but just a fierce desire to compete and the confidence in himself that he could get out of any jam. He was a fun guy to coach.
I am very proud of Joe, as you can tell. He’s not only a former player but also a “hometown” boy. You are very perceptive to recognize Joe’s desire to compete and help the team anyway possible. He is not a spoiled, soft, arrogant athlete. He is a throwback to the pitchers from the golden age of baseball. He always treats the people from “back home” with respect. He isn’t perfect (none of us are). He has a temper and can be very hard on himself when things don’t go well. But, he will not “show up” a teammate. Thanks for recognizing some of Joe’s attributes.
I hope that we all have the opportunity to see him on the hill in the Series!