01/30/2017 2:20 PM
Jake Blackwood, who's one of the best players to wear a T-Bones uniform, is retiring. (2016 file photo by John Ellis.)
KANSAS CITY, Kan. – The Kansas City T-Bones announced that one of the organization’s best players and a long-time Kansas City resident, Jake Blackwood, is retiring.
Blackwood, who was born in Charleston, S.C., but moved to the Kansas City area at a young age, spent four of his 11 professional seasons in a T-Bones uniform, including the last two, 2015 and ’16.
“This was a hard decision but it’s something I want to do because of my family,” said Blackwood, who, along with his wife Chelsea, has a 3-year-old son and a newborn daughter. “I haven’t missed a summer of baseball since I was 4 years old, and I’ve spent 11 years of my adult life being gone in the summers. I want to be home during the week and be with my family.”
Blackwood, 31, retires near the top of the T-Bones’ franchise leaders in several categories including games played (second, 359), at-bats (second, 1,450), hits (second-tied, 430), doubles (third, 84), home runs (third-tied, 60), extra-base hits (second, 150), RBIs (fourth, 254), and runs scored (second, 706). The best single season of Blackwood’s career was with Kansas City in 2010, when he finished with 141 hits, five triples, 31 home runs, 86 RBIs and a .331 batting average. After the season he was selected as the league’s Player of the Year.
“The T-Bones have been proud to be associated with Jake Blackwood over the years,” said T-Bones Vice-President and General Manager Chris Browne. “Jake was a team leader on the field and in the clubhouse. He represented the T-Bones well, played the game the right way and respected the game.”
The then-Florida Marlins selected Blackwood in the 16th round of the 2006 MLB June Amateur Draft out of Maple Woods Community College. Blackwood, who starred at Platte County High School, spent the first three seasons of his career in the Marlins’ organization. After finishing the 2009 season and playing all of ’10 with the T-Bones, he signed a minor-league contract with the San Diego Padres and played three seasons in their system, reaching double-A in 2012 and ’13. He played for Winnipeg in 2014, before beginning his second stint with Kansas City in 2015. Throughout his professional career, which includes one season of winter ball in Mexico and Venezuela, Blackwood batted .271 with 122 home runs, 635 RBIs and 541 runs scored in 1,127 games.
“It was a huge honor to finish my career with the T-Bones,” Blackwood said. “I loved being a hometown guy and playing in front of friends and family, but also in front of fans who were amazing. A lot of professional baseball players don’t get to play where they grew up and experience that. I couldn’t ask for a better experience, but now I’m ready to move on to the next chapter in my life.”
“Jake will be missed nightly by our fans, but he will always have a place at our park,” Browne said. “He will remain a T-Bone at heart.”
The “next chapter” for Blackwood, besides spending time with his family, includes coaching a 16u showcase baseball team. Blackwood has worked with many of those players as a private instructor in recent years.
“I’m excited to coach this team,” he said. “There are three to five guys on this team who could get drafted out of high school, so we have a lot of talented kids with good heads on their shoulders. I’m ready to give back to the game that gave so much to me.”
As Blackwood reminisces now about his 11-year professional career, he’s already pretty sure what he’s going to miss the most.
“I’ll miss the games as a player, of course, but it’s really the time with the boys,” he said. “When you’re playing, 17-hour bus rides to Laredo aren’t a lot of fun, but I’m going to miss those times, and the times in the clubhouse or going out with the guys after the game. I have made a lot of really good, lifelong friends in professional baseball.”