World Series Winner Mentors Blues Athletes and Throws Himself Into Life in Walla Walla
In the 2020 World Series, All-Star pitcher Blake Treinen had an opportunity that many athletes dream about—what he calls “the biggest stage, the biggest game of my career.”
In the ninth inning of Game 5, Treinen came in to pitch for the Los Angeles Dodgers against the Tampa Bay Rays. With his signature blazing fast pitches, the 32-year-old right-hander closed out the game in dramatic fashion, securing a crucial win for his team. The Dodgers went on to take home the coveted trophy in Game 6 of the series.
Scattered across the country and watching the World Series that same October evening, Whitman College athletes celebrated one of their own—a coach and friend. Treinen had encouraged and guided these teammates and alumni, and they will tell you it’s the character of the man that makes him a true champion.
More Than Just a Game
In baseball, home base is the ultimate destination. As a pro player since 2011, Treinen has made an impressive career of pursuing the plate’s corners and sweet spots with an arsenal of wicked pitches, including his sinker, cutter, slider and fastball.
Still, it’s the home and contentment that he’s found with his wife and young children in Walla Walla that he’s most grateful for. And according to Treinen, they may not have made the move to Washington at all if it weren’t for his off-season gig with Whitman College’s baseball program. (See “Joining the Blues.”) Treinen, who grew up in Kansas and previously played for the Oakland Athletics and Washington Nationals, joined the Blues coaching staff in the fall of 2015.
“Having Blake on our staff has been tremendous,” says Head Coach Brian Kitamura ’10. “First and foremost, he’s a great person with an incredible family. His willingness to give his time to our program and to our student-athletes is something that we are really thankful for, especially with his schedule as a professional athlete.”
No sports achievement, even a World Series win, could ever compare to the rich rewards he gets from his family, deep faith and relationships, Treinen says. He recalls how that struck him following the 2020 World Series.
“I’m asking myself, ‘Look, you just had the biggest accomplishment of your lifetime potentially and do you feel satisfied?’ And I’m thinking, ‘No, I don’t. Nothing will fill the void in your heart meant for Jesus.’ So, what do you do? Chase another one and have the same feeling or realize that your life is worth more than just a game?”
Helping Out Any Way That He Can
According to Treinen, any positive influence he can bring to the Blues is immensely gratifying to him. “Most of my interactions are in the weight room with the players. So, when they walk in, I tell them, ‘Hey, when I’m here, ask me as many questions as you want. Because I’d love to help you out in any way that I can.’”
But he says the real credit for the quality of the program goes to Kitamura and his staff. “They do all the work really. That baseball program is successful because of what they do,” Treinen says. “The cool thing about BK [Kitamura] and the guys who are there is they’re all about coaching up quality humans, not just baseball players. And there are so many things in life that are more important than baseball.”
When asked about the kind of student-athletes Whitman recruits, Treinen chooses the word “cerebral.”
“They want to think like the Xs and Os and how things work. To me, that’s a great asset. What separates minor leaguers from big leaguers is your mental side. I’ve seen a lot of guys at Whitman who are mentally strong and they have the ability to see the bigger picture.”
As far as Whitman baseball program’s big picture, Treinen certainly plays into their bright future. “The knowledge he’s able to share about strength training and pitching has really helped our players with their development.” Kitamura says. But it’s more than that. “It’s pretty special to have a guy like Blake here to mentor our student-athletes, which is an integral part of our mission to help each of our players become the best person they can be.”
In January of 2021, the Los Angeles Dodgers signed Blake Treinen to a new two-year contract.