Former Detroit Tiger Ike Blessitt needs our help!
A former four-sport star at Hamtramck High School, Ike Blessitt was drafted by his hometown Detroit Tigers in 1967. After toiling for years in the minor leagues, Blessitt was finally called up to Detroit in September of 1972 and helped his team win the American League East.
But after a late-night run-in with irascible Tigers manager Billy Martin at a downtown Detroit hotel, Blessitt was sent back to the minor leagues.
He went on to play many years in the Mexican leagues, but after his rift with Martin, he never played in the big leagues again.
Now 72, the former Tiger has been battling serious health issues in recent months, including a heart attack and a bleeding esophagus. He’s also had to undergo triple bypass surgery. A few years ago, diabetes claimed his right foot, and today he walks with a prosthetic leg.
Today Blessitt lives in a cramped house on the city’s east side in serious need of repair, with no kitchen, no pension, and very little income. He never made a lot of money in professional baseball, and he’s one of an estimated 179 former players who weren’t on a major-league roster long enough to qualify for a pension or health care.
“I’m hurting,” he admits in an interview in this week's Detroit Metro Times.
But he’s not giving up hope.
Despite his struggles with his health, Blessitt has shown incredible resilience in the face of adversity. And even though Blessitt is retired from professional baseball, he still lives and breathes the game.
Blessitt regularly takes part in Detroit Tigers Fantasy Camp, and he gets by giving batting lessons to teenagers in a makeshift batting cage in his backyard.
“When I take my last breath,” he says, “I want to be able to say I’ve made a dent in baseball history in Detroit.”
In his struggle to adjust to life after baseball, Ike Blessitt urgently needs our support to help offset his medical expenses and to help repair his longtime family home.
If you can, please donate to help support the cause.
And please help us spread the word!
Ike needs our help now more than ever.