BY STEVE KRAH
The apple didn’t fall too far from the baseball tree.
“I’ve always known I wanted to coach,” says Blake Beemer, a Ball State University assistant and second-generation college baseball coach.
Blake’s father, Gregg Beemer, was on the staffs at Bowling Green (Ohio) State University and Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio. He is now the recruiting director for the Dayton Classics travel baseball organization.
“He loves baseball and passed it down to me,” says Blake. “I think when I was 11 I decided that college would be ideal for me. I’m fortunate to be living the dream.”
Beemer, 28, was born in Dayton, played for Ohio High School Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Famer Chuck Harlow at Northmont High School in Clayton, Ohio, and played four seasons at Ball State (2010-13) for head coaches Greg Beals, Alex Marconi and Rich Maloney. He was a team captain in his final three seasons with the Cardinals. For his career, he hit .286 with 108 runs scored and 94 driven in.
He also served two years on the Student-Athletic Advisory Committee executive committee as an undergraduate and was one of 30 finalists for the 2013 Senior CLASS Award. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Sport Administration and Master of Business Administration from Ball State.
“I understand game operations and what goes on behind the scenes,” says Beemer. “That goes into planning a practice and the time commitments of a coach.
“Part of our job is managing a budget and scholarships and being good with numbers. That’s where the (MBA) has helped me in this job.”
His first coaching position was with a Dayton Classics high school age team in the summer of 2013.
“We were very average,” says Beemer. “It was very humbling to realize that the game is out of your control at that point and you are just trying to put guys in good positions.
“It’s a lot of fun when guys have success. I learned a lot that summer. I really did.”
Beemer was an assistant to head coach Jason Anderson at Eastern Illinois University (2016-18) before joining Maloney’s BSU coaching crew. He is also the Cards’ recruiting coordinator.
He has learned that to make an impact, it takes an investment.
“The biggest thing we do as college coaches is that we have to care,” says Beemer. “You have to try to create relationships and get to know your guys and what they’re going through off the field as well as on it.”
It just doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time.
“As you create that trust, that understanding, that love, I think that’s when you can start to open up and coach guys a little bit harder or find what makes guys tick,” says Beemer. “When they know you really care that’s when it really can be special.”
In addition to Harlow in high school, Beemer says Beals, Marconi and Maloney all made their mark on him in different ways.
“(Beals) was a very tough, demanding coach,” says Beemer. “But he was quick to make sure you knew he was on your side. (Marconi) was more laid-back, a guy you could really talk to. You didn’t feel intimidated by him.
“(Maloney) has that professionalism, caring and love. When you have that, you can really do a lot of things. He brought that back (to Ball State) when he came in 2013.
“We weren’t talented the year before. He told us he loved us and we were going to be good. The power of belief got us there (the Cards went from 14-36 in 2012 to 31-24 in 2013).”
Beemer says Maloney is “ultra-competitive.”
“He’s still fiery,” says Beemer. “He’s competitive. He wants to win. He challenges myself to bring energy everyday and he challenges our guys.
“It’s fun when we have that coming down from the top. It gets the best out of everybody in the group.”
In his role as recruiting coordinator, Beemer, who addressed the 2020 Indiana High School Baseball Coaches State Clinic about investing time outfield development, has come to see that recruiting never really stops.
“With social media today, you can find players all the time,” says Beemer. “Our recruiting time from an NCAA standpoint is March 1 to Nov. 1. That’s the time period we can be out on the road everyday and go watch players.
“When November comes, we dial it back and can only recruit at camps on our campus.”
It becomes a projectable exercise. The BSU staff has to consider who might be taken in Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft from their roster or their commits from high school and whether or not they are likely to sign with professional teams. They might need to fill a need at the junior college level.
“It’s a balancing act,” says Beemer of juggling the current team with the future of the program. “Recruiting has sped up so much. We’re recruiting (high school) sophomores and juniors pretty regularly now.
“We pride ourselves in being a mid-major team that finds under-the-radar-type guys that may develop a little bit later.”
Beemer notes that 2019 first-rounder Drey Jameson was an undersized right-hander when he came to Ball State out of Greenfield-Central High School and that current junior right-hander Kyle Nicolas has steadily developed since arriving in Muncie from Ohio.
“Typically, we don’t get that blue chip recruit who’s a freshman stud in high school. We get the guy who’s getting better as a junior and senior. Hopefully we aren’t missing and don’t have to over-recruit.
“We want good players wherever they’re at,” says Beemer. “There’s a lot of really good baseball in Indiana. Grand Park (in Westfield, Ind.) is a great complex to recruit (for recruiting). We can go 45 minutes and see just about everything.”
Beemer says as Maloney and Ball State builds the brand, they can go get players from California and other places.
Former Ball State University baseball player Blake Beemer is now an assistant coach/recruiting coordinator for the Cardinals. (Ball State University Photo)