07/15/2016 11:38 AM
Mustang alumnus Blake Kolons returned to Phil Welch Stadium Thursday night, but for the first time, he donned the opposing uniform.
By Tim Hannah
ST. JOSEPH, Mo. - Returning to the old stomping grounds is as much nostalgic as it is awe inspiring. Looking back on all the memories, good and bad, put life in a different perspective. On Thursday night, Blake Kolons returned to the place he called home for three summers.
Kolons arrived at Phil Welch ready to play baseball, like he had done over a hundred times before. Except Thursday Kolons did not sport the red and white, but the blue of Kansas City Monarchs.
Kolons returned to his place right field, where he spent countless innings watching from the bullpen.
Except this time Kolons was in the game, not as a pitcher, but an outfielder. Kolons made a career in St. Joe striking out opposing batters, but on Thursday fans cheered instead with hopes their Taco Bell K-Man of the Night would be the one sent back to the dugout.
"It's amazing being back," Kolons said. "It was a great atmosphere. Never thought I'd be back."
Kolons, originally from the St. Louis area, grew up loving baseball. That passion followed him as he would attend the University of Central Missouri as a relief pitcher. He was named to the Academic All-MIAA Honor Roll four times and finished his career with a 4.69 ERA. Following his sophomore season he would spend his summer here in St. Joseph, a decision that would ultimately change the rest of his life as he knew it.
"The first summer I was like okay, you know," Kolons said, "I've heard a lot about it, but by the third summer it was unbelievable. Playing here was better than I ever could have hoped for summer ball."
In Kolons' three years he appeared in 36 games, starting eight of them. He amassed 91 strikeouts, in 90 innings pitched and ended his career with a record of 6-3. Tonight for the first time in his three years, Kolons found himself at the plate and not on the mound. The fans that once celebrated his pitching ability chanted at him willing him to strikeout for the hope of free food.
"It was funny. I think it was my second at bat I was like 'ah, I'm going to reach for one just to make sure I don't strike out.'"
Kolons now works as a counselor for Balls and Strikes Baseball camp in Ballwin, Missouri where he helps coach and gives private lessons. For Kolons, coming back to St. Joseph one last time was the perfect way to remember his time here.
"Playing right field was great though. That was one thing I wanted to do was to get out on the field here one time and that fulfilled it."