Born: August 23, 1973 (Des Moines, Iowa)
Graduated: Indianola (IA) High School, 1992 / Wichita State University, 1996
When you see the name ‘Casey Blake’, what comes to mind? Is it his tenure at Wichita State, where he received three All-American honors and helped bring the Shockers to their third College World Series final in a five-year span in 1993? Is it the thirteen seasons he played in Major League Baseball, where he hit 167 home runs, the second-most among any Wichita State player ever? Is it the fact that he was named one of the ten best high school athletes in Iowa history?
Whatever it may be, Blake has had an incredibly accomplished career. In high school, Blake played four sports at Indianola High School and thrived in all of them. He was a two-time all-state quarterback on the football team, the leading scorer on the basketball team and a medal winner in the 400-meter hurdles at the state track meet. And those were just the sports he didn’t play beyond high school. Blake was named all-state in baseball twice and he decided that baseball would be the path he would take for sports.
After being selected in the eleventh round of the 1992 MLB Draft, Blake decided to play college baseball for Gene Stephenson and the Wichita State Shockers. In 1993, Wichita State was coming off their second consecutive College World Series appearance and was just four years removed from their College World Series championship in 1989.
In his freshman year, the Shockers once again made the College World Series final and Blake was a big part of it, hitting for a .366 batting average and driving in 57 runs. Unfortunately, for the second time in three years, the Shockers lost the championship game to the LSU Tigers.
Blake would continue putting up big numbers in his sophomore and junior seasons, but the Shockers were unable to reach the College World Series in either year. Finally, in his senior year, Blake would have his best season, hitting for a .360 average with 22 home runs and 101 runs batted in. As a result, Blake was named the Missouri Valley Conference’s Most Valuable Player. The Shockers would go on to return to the College World Series, where they once again lost to LSU in the first round. Blake finished his career at Wichita State tied for second in games started, fifth in hits, tied for fifth in runs batted in and with the most put-out assists.
Blake was drafted in the seventh round of the 1996 MLB Draft by the Toronto Blue Jays and would go on to have a long career. He played thirteen seasons in the MLB, playing with the Blue Jays, Minnesota Twins, Baltimore Orioles, Cleveland Indians and Los Angeles Dodgers. In his thirteen seasons, Blake had a career batting average of .264, while racking up 1,186 hits, 167 home runs and 616 runs batted in. Blake retired on May 8, 2012.
The best season of Blake’s career came in 2004 with the Indians, when he had a .271 batting average, an .839 on-base-plus-slugging (OPS), 28 home runs and 88 runs batted in.
Blake returned to Indianola with his wife, Abbie, and they have made a tremendous impact in the community, donating more than $1 million to Indianola Community Youth Foundation to help build the Blake Fieldhouse, a place to develop the athletic, academic and fine arts skills for the young people in Indianola. Today, Blake and Abbie live in Indianola with their six children.
Please welcome Casey Blake to the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame.
By: Sam Hays