Blanton has fond memories of BJ Raiders


Ben Blanton, BJ Raiders alum and 2002 Ban Johnson Hustle Award winner was inducted into the William Jewell College Athletic Hall of Fame October 3, 2015.

Blanton was one of the most decorated baseball players in the history of William Jewell.

He said, “I was honored to be recognized. I have great memories of my college years at WJC and the summers spent playing in the Ban Johnson League.”

The shortstop was part of several Ban Johnson League championships with the BJ Raiders.

“It was a special time in my life and I’ll never forget the relationships, the atmosphere and summer days/nights spent on the ball field (and even the late dinners at Chubbies on Broadway after late night doubleheaders).

“I remember mowing lawns and working for a moving company during the day and going straight from work to play a doubleheader. I’m amazed we had enough energy to stay awake sometimes, let alone play well.

“I loved the atmosphere on the Raiders,” he said. “We played a fun style of baseball. We were so loose that some may have thought we were too loose, but that’s how we played our best.

“I remember joking around with Blake Moore, Nick Zicarelli, Vito Labruzzo, Vince Armillio, Mike Herr, Eric Smith and many others over the years (before, after and even during games). We had so much fun together, similar to an old sandlot bunch of kids, but we wanted to win every game we played.”

The Raiders won championships in 2002-2005.

“We won a few championships while I played with the Raiders, but my favorite series was against Milgram in 2002 (or maybe it was 2004),” he said. “It was a tense rivalry and never a dull moment.

“Some of my favorite moments were stepping to the plate while emotions were running high and the game was on the line.”

He remembers one instance.

“I remember Zicarelli had just been hit by a pitch and the benches had almost cleared at one point during the series,” he recalls. “I was up next, and Brad Willis (our third base coach) called me down to the coaches box before my at bat.

“I remember thinking, I sure hope he isn’t going to ask me to bunt him over. He didn’t. He told me to hit one over the fence and I did. What a fun moment.”

Blanton was drafted by the Philadelphia Phillies and spent two years in the minor leagues before leaving to become a banker in Kansas City for nine years.

He is married with three boys ages 7, 5 and 3.

Currently he and his family are living in the Middle East on a Christian ministry.

“I’m sure I will be doing some coaching in the future,” he said. “Be on the lookout for a few other Blanton boys in about 15 years.

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