Baseball's Blake Read Getting the Most Out of His Cal Experience
May 10, 2004
BERKELEY, CA - With the various activities in his life, senior right-hander Blake Read is one student-athlete who is definitely getting the most out of his experience at the University of California. From playing baseball, to teaching classes, to studying English, Read is taking advantage of what Cal has to offer. As the Golden Bears baseball team (24-27) prepares to take on San Diego State Tuesday and the University of San Diego Wednesday in San Diego, he is especially looking forward to the trip near his hometown of Encinitas.
'It will be nice,' said Read, who was a standout pitcher La Costa Canyon High School. 'People have always asked me when Cal was going to be coming to San Diego, and now to be able to play two of my final five games there is great. San Diego is where I developed my baseball skills that enabled me to play at Cal. I can finally play in front of my friends and family on my home turf, and share with them the college baseball experience that's been a defining aspect of my college life in Berkeley.'
Read wasn't sure he was going to have a college baseball career at all, as he was planning to attend Cal strictly as a student after not receiving any recruiting interest from either San Diego State or University of San Diego. However, he decided to contact the Bears' baseball office in the summer of 2000 to let them know he was coming to school and was interested in trying out. Cal head coach David Esquer and pitching coach Dan Hubbs knew about Read's 10-2 record and 2.60 ERA as a high school senior and gave him a spot on the fall roster with a chance to make the team.
'I thought everyday at practice might be my last day,' said Read. 'Then that spring (2001), I was the first reliever to come out of the bullpen in the first game of the season (a 7-3 win at Santa Clara). It was the culmination of all my hard work. I think I have had a pretty decent career for a walk-on.'
Indeed, Read had done just fine for himself as a Cal baseball player. In a key series at UCLA in 2001, he pitched in the Saturday contest against the Bruins, helping the Bears to a sweep, which guaranteed Cal in a spot in the NCAA Regional in Baton Rouge, La. It was also especially sweet for Read as both his parents, Mark and Richelle, had attended UCLA, and he had picked Berkeley over Westwood as his college of choice.
'That win over UCLA my freshman year affirmed my decision to come to Cal,' said Read. 'I was the only true walk-on on the team to make the trip to Baton Rouge, and this was after thinking in high school that I was probably done playing baseball.'
Read had a tough sophomore season in which, as he says 'everything went wrong.' Now as a steady senior, he is probably having his best year, owning a 2-0 record with a 4.09 ERA and 16 strikeouts in 22.0 innings.
Aside from baseball, there are other compelling aspects of Read's college life. An outstanding student, he has a 3.5 GPA as an English major, and last season was a member of the Pac-10 All-Academic first team. Not only is Read a strong student, he teaches a unique De-Cal (Democratic Education at Cal) class on the Bahï¿½'' Faith, whose central theme is that humanity is one single race and the day has come for its unification in one global society.
'I see this class as a bridge between the two worlds of my life, baseball and my faith,' said Read, who has taught the class the last three semesters and currently has six baseball players among his students. 'It gives me a chance to introduce to others something that is important to me. The class addresses the modern world's social problems, and how the religion's teachings are conducive to helping the world's problems through the belief in the oneness of humanity.'
Read's teaching foray has sparked his interest in teaching as a career, but he is also interested in some day writing a book. He is currently working on a 25-page paper on James Joyce's Ulysses for his final senior project, and following graduation this spring, is planning to travel next year to live with his sister, Katharine, who is a U.S. diplomat in Poland.'Being involved in the De-Cal class has peaked my interest in teaching,' said Read. 'There is definitely a value teaching gives the teacher, as well as the students. Studying the book Ulysses has also inspired me to write. Maybe someday I will write about growing up and playing baseball in my hometown.'
And returning to his hometown of San Diego is where Blake Read is going to be this week. Having had the opportunity to play baseball, teach and study English has shown that he has indeed received, and taken advantage of, a well-rounded education at the University of California.