By Steve Mims
Bobby Blandford was a two-sport star at Pleasant Grove High School, but baseball always topped his list.
“As a kid, I loved football, but baseball was my main sport,” he said. “As I grew older, I found more success in baseball and was more attached to baseball than football.”
The Elk Grove, Calif. native focused on baseball as a freshman in high school before playing wide receiver in the fall as a sophomore and junior. He had to decide between the two sports during his senior year of high school in 2021 when COVID delays pushed the two sports into the same season.
He earned all-conference and all-state recognition as a senior for the Eagles when he batted .402 with seven home runs and 35 RBIs to go with 11 doubles and 24 runs scored. He also went 2-1 with a 2.15 ERA on the mound with 19 strikeouts in 13 innings.
“My focus was always on hitting, my dream from the day I started playing was to hit,” he said. “There was a lot of good competition in my area, a lot of Division I players that came out of those programs.”
Blandford added his name to that list when he signed to play at Fresno State. The sophomore outfielder is one of four Bulldogs who will spend this summer playing for the Springfield Drifters in the West Coast League.
Last summer, Blandford played for Duluth in the Northwoods League, another college wood-bat league based in the Midwest.
“That was a huge step up,” said Blandford, who played in the Bay Area League following his senior year of high school.
“Guys are taking serious at-bats and taking the game serious. It is a high level of competition with a lot of good athletes. That was helpful in developing my game and a great experience.”
Blandford played 35 games as a freshman at Fresno State, including 18 starts, while batting .271 with four homers and two doubles to earn Academic All-Mountain West honors. He has four hits, including a double and a triple, in eight starts this season for FSU.
“I had a lot of guys ahead of me in the outfield as a freshman, almost every guy was returning that year,” Blandford said. “I had to prove myself at that level. I worked hard to get where I am at.”
Blandford comes from a baseball family as his uncle, Paul, was drafted by the Montreal Expos in 1996. Bobby’s parents, Shawna and Aaron, will be regulars at Hamlin Field this summer.
The 6-foot-2 Blandford once attended a prospect camp at the University of Oregon and has played on travel teams that visited Medford.
The Drifters open the season on June 2 at home against Port Angeles. There are not a lot of breaks during the 57-game schedule that runs into August, but Blandford hopes to get a chance to enjoy two of his favorite hobbies, boating and fishing, while in the Willamette Valley.
“I hear it is nice up there,” he said.