Tournament brings star back home

Tekotte excelled in high school in Columbia, plays for University of Miami
Thursday, May 31, 2007 | 12:53 a.m. CDT; updated 11:37 a.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008

She was more than 1,300 miles away, but when Cheryl Tekotte heard the news that the University of Miami baseball team, and her son, Blake, would be playing in the NCAA regional in Columbia this weekend, her motherly instincts kicked in.

“I called him as soon as I saw it on TV,” Cheryl Tekotte said.

After a little prodding from her husband, Blake Tekotte Sr., the smiling mom revealed her first reaction.

“Ahhh!” she screamed. “Baby, you’re coming home!

“But it was a bit louder on Monday.”

Cheryl Tekotte’s “baby,” Blake Tekotte Jr., excelled in both baseball and football at Hickman High School, winning state titles in both sports. He was named an All-American by Collegiate Baseball magazine as a senior, and was a two-time selection to the all-state team.

He left that legacy on the football and baseball fields at Hickman once he graduated in 2005. Although he had scholarship offers from many schools, including the hometown Tigers, the slender center fielder instead chose to go to Miami on a full baseball scholarship.

“I’ve got nothing bad to say about Mizzou,” he said after Miami’s practice Wednesday. “It was a chance and a risk to come to Miami, but they have a prestigious program and it’s a good school. It was a great opportunity.”

His parents said they would have loved for him to stay close to home, but they understand his decision to attend Miami.

“There would be a lot of expectations for him if he went to Mizzou,” Blake Tekotte Sr. said. “Just because of what he accomplished in high school.”

“He’s gained maturity, confidence and independence,” Cheryl Tekotte said. “But thank God for cell phones.”

After two seasons and seven trips to Miami, the Tekottes finally get to see their son play just miles away.

Both parents relish the opportunity, as does their son.

“I was excited and shocked to hear that I’d be coming to Columbia,” Blake Tekotte Jr. said. “I’m excited about getting the chance to play in front of my family and friends again. It was hard to come to Miami because of the distance, but it’s going to be pretty cool to play at home again.

“It’s nice to know that my family won’t have to spend money on a plane ticket for a change. They can just drive 5 minutes.”

His parents seem just as excited, but they aren’t sure who to root for.

“We have mixed feelings, because we like Missouri too,” Blake Tekotte Sr. said. “Blake played with a lot of the Missouri players throughout high school.”

The elder Tekotte said his son has played with Missouri’s Jacob Priday, Brock Bond, Evan Frey and Andrew Mueller. The Tekottes still have close connections with each of the families.

“When the Pridays come to Columbia, they stay at our house,” Cheryl Tekotte said, before jokingly adding, “We told them they can’t stay here this weekend.”

“Actually, the Freys and Pridays were over at our house earlier this week,” the proud mother went on. “I was trying to do some scouting, get their sons’ stats.”

While the Tekottes say that their allegiance is torn this weekend, one look around their house would prove otherwise. Ozzie, one of their three dogs, greets visitors at the door with a Blake Tekotte “9” handkerchief tied around his neck. Maddie, another one of their pugs, is soon to follow, sporting a Miami collar. In the living room, a half-completed orange-and-green sign sits on the floor, almost ready to greet the Miami baseball team at its hotel Wednesday night. Green and orange balloons hover above the coffee table.

It appears that Cheryl Tekotte enjoys the opportunity to play “Team Mom” one last time.

“We’re trying to have the team over for dinner on Friday night,” Cheryl Tekotte said. “Blake is known as the ‘Country Boy’ in Miami, so his teammates keep asking him if he lives in a barn. I hope they aren’t surprised when they get here.”

She goes on to say what’s on the menu, making sure to add that she needs to cook for 25 players, not including coaches.

“Corn on the cob, baked potatoes, green beans, pulled pork and beef from Buckingham’s,” she lists. “Blake said he wanted some pasta, and then for dessert, my specialty: brownies and ice cream.”

“Hopefully, it’ll be a victory dinner,” Blake Tekotte Sr. added.

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