Game Day Notes

Author: Zach Swartz - Special Correspondent

Source: South Williamsport, Pa.

Date/Time: Monday, August 24, 2009, 8:00pm ET

If you’re looking for some extra motivation, just call a Major Leaguer.

Or, in the case of Urbandale (Iowa) Little League, they just had one call them.

Casey Blake, a veteran third baseman from the Los Angeles Dodgers, phoned in to Williamsport, Pa., on Monday to wish the Midwest Region Champions, who entered Saturday good luck. Blake hails from Indianola, Iowa, a suburb of Des Moines about 25 miles south of Urbandale.

“Listen, the thing I can say is you guys go out there expecting to win, all right?” Blake told the 12 players over speakerphone. “Don’t go out there expecting bad things to happen or unsure. Go out there and just know that you guys are going to win. Win or lose, I’m proud of you guys. I’m proud to say I’m from Iowa.”

Two players, outfielders Ross Kramer and Michael Staub, know firsthand Blake’s relation to central Iowa. Their moms, who are both teachers in the area, work with Blake’s brother. They are two of the group of kids who said right away that “that was pretty cool” when the phone call was done.

Blake, who said he’d be watching the team’s games when he gets some time off from playing the Colorado Rockies this week, was sure to give the kids some motivation.

“Expect good things to happen,” he said. “And, you know, if things don’t go your way, go home and start school—isn’t that something to look forward to?”

A resounding, “NO!” was the answer. A few hours later, a game against the Mid-Atlantic Region Champions would determine who would advance to a U.S. semifinal in Pool A. For right now, baseball—the game that both 36-year-old Blake and the 12- and 13-year-olds on Urbandale play—comes first.