Blake Whealy: The Guy You Can't Help But Like

Blake Whealy's as personable an individual as you're ever likely to meet. Gifted with a frank charm, the twenty-four year old immediately puts you at ease with his gentle sarcasm and quick laugh. Born in San Benito, Texas, Whealy was the middle child of two athletically inclined parents. His father played baseball while his mother did tennis-- both competed at the collegiate level. When Blake was seven, his family moved to Chicago where he took up baseball as a summer sport.

Encouraged by his parents, Blake continued with the game throughout middle school and into high school.

During his junior year, Whealy began to realize that he had the talent necessary to fulfill his dream-- a career in baseball. Scouts surrounded him and brought promises of elite coaching staff that would craft a well-developed talent honed for major league success. In the end, location and climate (he prefers the heat to the cold) made up his mind. Whealy headed back home to Texas to play baseball for Texas A&M. During his freshman year, the team headed to the College World Series where they had "a storybook ending," winning off of two back to back homeruns. That year's team is fondly remembered as "one of the best teams (he's) ever been on." His sophomore year didn't see Blake playing as much as he would've liked and when it was over he transferred to Evansville University. It was his last stop before being picked up by the Mets' organization.

His luck in finding, and being qualified for, this dream profession doesn't elude Whealy. He's quick to note that the best part of his job is "play(ing) a game for a living. …Whatever sport, playing a game for a living, you can't beat that." Not wishing to give offense, he's equally quick to point out that sitting behind a desk at a computer all day "isn't horrible-- it just isn't for me." Blake seems to crave the excitement of the game, to feed on it, and, while he enjoys all of its aspects, he's not immune to its hardships. Like several of his teammates, Whealy thinks that the hardest part of his job is that it keeps going, and that it keeps going at such a high level. Even though you've been playing baseball for twelve nights in a row and you've just dropped your last ten games, you're still expected to perform your best and make it through five more games in three more cities. Whealy says that Cal Ripken Jr's his favorite player mainly because he "came ready to play every day for that long."

Concentrating on baseball is all well and good, but what about when you just get fried? Or when the pressure builds to an almost intolerable peak? What tricks come out of Whealy's sleeve then? When his at bat's not going so hot, Blake steps back, picks a spot on the outfield wall, and just stares for a moment or two, thinking about "something totally the opposite of baseball." Anything's game, from a conversation with his friends to a favorite spot he misses from home. On his last day off, and, lets face it, there aren't that many of those during the season, Blake chartered a boat with three of his friends and spent a leisurely day fishing on Lake Murray.

Once the season's over and Blake heads home to River Forest, Illinois, baseball's the farthest thing from his mind-- for a month. No bats are touched, balls caught, or gloves glanced at for a solid four weeks. As soon as those limited vacation days are up, however, Whealy and three of his friends get together and hit the gym religiously. Competition is friendly but fierce between the guys, all four of them professional athletes, as insults get hurled and critiques given in both the gym and the batting cages. Two of the guys play for the Marlins and one's with the Brewers. All know how to get the most from their childhood buddies and waste no time in pushing limits and expanding skills, skills sorely tried during the upcoming season.

Keeping his common sense during his hectic schedule has helped Blake thrive in his ever changing environment. He's smart enough to realize that there's no reason to be intimidated by either your teammates or your opponents-- they're your age, have been playing the sport as long as you, and are the exact same guys you went to college to play with or against. Whealy says that because it's professional ball, you "expect everybody to be so much more advanced." He says that it took him about a year to realize that this wasn't the case and to get back on an even keel with his game. If Whealy was having problems though, you couldn't prove it by the stats. His first year in Brooklyn had him batting .289, with ten home runs and thirty-four RBI's. He was on the New York Penn League's All-Star team and was tied at third in the league for home runs and second in slugging percentage, .534. During the 2003 season, he was at both the Columbia and Brooklyn clubs.

Since last season, Whealy has labored to cut down on his strikeouts and to become more efficient at double plays. This is his first real season at second base and there's a lot of technique to learn. Last year he played third and in college you could find him at shortstop. The transition has been "different," but it's been taken in stride and accepted as a challenge. Not one to be daunted by a new task, Whealy tackles it with the optimistic enthusiasm characteristic of this popular player. Well liked by his teammates, he's relied on for his positive and determined nature. Pitcher Shane Hawk says, "He works hard every day and he's the type of guy that, if you're down and you're not having good day or something's going wrong in your life, he's a person you can go talk to. He's always positive; he's never got anything negative, even if he's having a bad day." This type of attitude makes Blake Whealy the type of person that others flock to. His charismatic personality draws his teammates and welcomes young fans. He's an obliging autograph signer who has major league aspirations and talent enough to inspire the same in younger generations.

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