The thoughts and prayers of the Simpson College community go out to the family and loved ones of Joe Blake, Sr., who passed away Monday, May 25 at the age of 65.
Blake was the long-time pitching coach for the Simpson baseball team and was the father of current head coach, Ben Blake. Blake was a 1971 graduate of Simpson College, where he was a two-sport star in football and baseball. He was inducted into the school's athletic hall of fame in 1981.
A Celebration of Life will be held 10:30 a.m., Saturday, May 30 in the Blake Field House at the Indianola Middle School, 403 South 15th Street in Indianola.
"Simpson athletics has lost a friend, a hall of famer and an icon," Director of Athletics Brian Niemuth said. "Joe Blake represented the best of Simpson College. He had the right attitude, a competitive spirit, a tireless work ethic and above all, was a great person. Joe will be sorely missed by all of us."
As a student-athlete at Simpson, Blake was a two-time First Team All-Iowa Conference performer as a pitcher on the diamond, becoming the first IIAC MVP in school history in 1971. He was also an all-conference performer on the gridiron, bringing home first team honors as a quarterback in 1969 and 1970. As a junior in 1969, Blake helped Simpson to its first Iowa Conference championship in 20 years while leading the Redmen to an appearance in the Mineral Water Bowl.
Blake finished his 31st season as Simpson's pitching coach in 2015. During his tenure, he coached 28 All-Iowa Conference pitchers, helped Simpson to four league titles and helped the 1991 squad become the first college in Iowa to qualify for the NCAA Division III World Series.
But Blake's impact on Simpson and the Indianola community go well beyond the diamond. The hundreds of lives he impacted throughout his life were brought to the forefront by the outpouring of positive sentiments shared on social media on Monday. The overriding theme throughout the comments is that Blake taught his players just as much about life as baseball.
Some of those sentiments, along with numerous news stories, can be found below:
Remembering Joe Blake: A player's perspective - Aaron Young '14, Des Moines Register
Iowa's first family of baseball loses 'legend' Joe Blake - Tommy Birch, Des Moines Register
Death of longtime coach monumental loss for community - Mark Tauscheck, KCCI TV
What a great man, coach, father, grandfather. Thinking of my family. RIP. https://t.co/lw2cNzzotm— Paitato (@Paiten24) May 26, 2015
The game will never be the same without you.... RIP Joe you will be missed.— Brandon Blom (@B_Blom22) May 26, 2015
Simpson assistant baseball coach Kelly Wilson on Joe Blake: "He never got frustrated about things. He always kept a smile."— Tommy Birch (@TommyBirch) May 26, 2015
For a man who's impact is felt well beyond the field. We love you Joe. My words will never capture who he was and is to me still.— Brock Borgeson (@brockborgeson) May 26, 2015
If anyone knew the game of baseball it was Joe Blake. RIP Joe it'll never be the same with out you— Luke Anctil (@lukeanctil) May 26, 2015
I would do anything to hear him talk just more time. I cant believe it— Matt Pennings (@SaintMatthevv) May 26, 2015
Tough loss for the Indianola community to see Joe Blake has passed. But what a contribution he made to that town during his lifetime.— JohnNaughton (@JohnNaughton) May 26, 2015
I will never forget Joe Blake. He made me the man I am today. I will always remember and look up to him. R.I.P Joe pic.twitter.com/5jz7dCBbb1— Jonny Scott (@JonnyScott11) May 26, 2015
I'll never forget that hug after my last game. He taught me so much about life and baseball. The man was more then a coach to me. Rip Joe.— Nicholas Anderson (@TheReal_NA24) May 26, 2015
The jokes and stories he could tell were second to none! One of the most genuine guys I've met. You won't be forgotten. Rest in paradise Joe— Jordan P. Bahl (@jordanbahl) May 26, 2015
At a loss for words. The Baseball Gods have one of the best with them now. I'll always cherish your friendship and guidance. Rest in peace.— Aaron Young (@AaYoung15) May 26, 2015
I think I'd do anything to hear how playing baseball reflects being successful in life just one more time.. ��— Gage Reis (@Gager21) May 26, 2015
Friends. Joe Blake, I love you. I miss you already. I'm glad I can sit and here and say I didn't take our time for granted because I always— Kyle Hanna (@CoachHanna12) May 26, 2015
Knew there was something special about it. Until we meet again, I love you. RIP Joe Blake— Kyle Hanna (@CoachHanna12) May 26, 2015
Heart is still very heavy learning of the loss of Joe Blake. Thoughts & prayers w Blake family, @SimpsonCollege family, & Indianola comm.— Elizabeth Curry (@CoachECurry) May 27, 2015