PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD/WYZZ) — This was the week Braedon Blackford hoped he’d be playing in an NCAA baseball regional for the Illinois State Redbirds.
“It was a dream since I’ve been little,” said Blackford. “I guess I have to wait another year.”
The Notre Dame grad started 14 games with ISU before the baseball season was cancelled in March. He’s been home ever since.
Last summer he played in the Prospect League for the Lafayette (Ind.) Aviators. He was hoping to do it again this summer but Lafayette plays its games at Purdue University, which is shut down.
So now, the only swings he gets are the ones in a batting cage.
“It’s the longest I’ve been without baseball,” Backford admitted. “It’s a weird feeling. I don’t play baseball year round, so I’m used to the break just not the break when you should be playing.”
But baseball isn’t the only thing on Blackford’s plate this spring. He’s taken a job with PAL Health Technologies in Pekin.
He’s helping manufacture shields used by essential workers on the front lines in the battle against COVID-19.
“It’s the plastic sheet doctors and first responders wear so they don’t get spit or coughed on,” Blackford said. “(The company) has an order to get out 100,000 a week to a hospital in Florida.”
Blackford’s father, Matt, is the chief operating officer at PAL Health Technologies.
The junior infielder would love to be winning baseball games this summer, but Blackford feels pretty good about his role in winning the war on COVID-19.
“It’s a humbling feeling because I’m not certified (in healthcare),” he said. “I can’t go help people but it’s humbling to know what I’m doing and what PAL Health is doing is making an impact.