Blank brothers bond through baseballWritten by Brandi Barhite | Community Ombudsman | email@example.com
Editor’s note: Toledo Free Press will follow the Blank family of Millbury for one year as they rebuild their lives after a June 5 tornado destroyed their Main Street home.
In the immediate days after the tornado, the baseball field became a getaway for the Blank brothers. Now, with the anniversary approaching, baseball is once again becoming an escape from the tornado talk.
But this year, Wes Blank isn’t coaching his half brother, Casey. Wes took the junior varsity coaching job at Otsego High School. Last year, he helped coach Casey who played on the Lake High School JV team.
“It is exciting, but part of it is sad,” said Wes, a 2004 Lake grad. “I don’t live with him, so this is a brotherly bond. The other day we got canceled and Lake played, and I went to watch him and it was weird to not be coaching him.”
Casey, who is pitching and playing center field for Lake’s JV team this year, said baseball is the favorite of the three sports he plays at Lake.
“I get to be outdoors and in the fresh air. I just like baseball because it is calming,” the sophomore said.
After the tornado destroyed his home June 5, Casey was back on the field for summer ball in less than 48 hours. Wes was his summer coach.
Wes said baseball reminds him of the tornado because the summer baseball season coincided with that fateful June 5 night.
He remembers talking to his team about the tornado. He started to cry.
“The reason I love baseball is it is a getaway, you don’t have to think about problems of everyday life. Baseball was a good help for me to get away from the situation,” Wes said.
Although that travel league wasn’t a Lake team, most of the players were from the Lake district and play JV ball for the school now.
“We bonded together. We didn’t have Lake on our chest, but we played for the school,” Wes said.
Casey said baseball makes it seem like his life has come full circle since the storm. Despite the tornado, he associates baseball with only good things. The only thing that would make this season perfect is if his brother was at Lake.
“It was fun having him as a coach because he knows what he is talking about,” Casey said. “It was disappointing that he went to Otsego because I like having him around. It will be kind of hard not having him.”
But Wes said being a part of rival teams won’t affect their relationship. He will still offer tips, minus the two days Lake competes against Otsego, at home April 28 and at Otsego on May 16.
“I will always be a brother first,” Wes said.