Where are they now? Checking in on Joe Blanton's unique new career path

The former Phillies' pitcher has chosen a new career that is drastically different than the daily grind of a Major League Baseball season.
World Series: Tampa Bay Rays v Philadelphia Phillies, Game 4
World Series: Tampa Bay Rays v Philadelphia Phillies, Game 4 / Elsa/GettyImages
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The Philadelphia Phillies acquired Joe Blanton from the Oakland Athletics in the summer of 2008, mainly as an innings eater. The rotation at the time was headed by Cole Hamels, Brett Myers, Jamie Moyer, Kyle Kendrick, etc. The club wanted to add starting pitching depth as they attempted to make the postseason for the second straight year.

At the time of the trade, Blanton was 5-12 with a 4.96 ERA. From 2005-2007 the right hander had accumulated 625 innings. He was a workhorse, and the Phillies could use him to round out their rotation. In 13 starts with the club in the second half of the 2008 season, Blanton started 13 games, averaged a little over 5 innings per game, and sported a 4.20 ERA. He did his job at the backend of the rotation and the Phillies won the NL East for the second straight year.

The Phillies would go on to win the World Series that year and Blanton contributed in the postseason. He made three starts and finished the playoffs with a 3.18 ERA. His most memorable contribution to the Phillies in any of his five years with the team came in game four of the 2008 World Series as he sent a 2-1 pitch over the left field wall to give the Phillies a 6-2 lead over the Tampa Bay Rays.

Blanton will be remembered in Phillies' postseason lore for generations. He would go on to pitch for the club through 2012, when he was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers. Eventually— after pitching for a few other teams— Blanton decided to hang it up in 2017.

Blanton's life after baseball

Matt Breen has been following up with members of the 2008 World Champion Phillies in a series of articles for The Philadelphia Inquirer. He told an interesting story about what the former Phillies pitcher decided to do after his career in baseball had ended.

Blanton had said that after each season had ended, he and his wife would take a vacation to reset in Napa Valley. It was his chance to decompress after the strenuous season that he had endured. The couple would turn off their cellphones and enjoy the food and wine that the popular area in California provides.

After spending some of his time off enjoying the finer things in life, Blanton decided that the wine industry could be his second career after baseball— after all, he was still just 36 years old. Blanton began taking college-level wine-making courses and eventually purchased his own vineyard. Blanton and his family live near the vineyard which is situated on Howell Mountain. While Blanton does not make the wine himself, he has a team of people who are experts in the area working for him. He does oversee the operations of the winery and looks to learn as much as he can throughout the process.

"It's all a process and it's a rewarding process when you get to try that finished product that you personally know you enjoy. "

Matt Breen/ The Philadelphia Inquirer

Blanton has made a nice transition from playing Major League Baseball to making a business endeavor to which he has a personal connection. He feels that same sense of calm in Napa now that he did when he would visit in the offseasons to hit the reset button. Blanton's winery is called "Selah" which means "to pause or reflect". If any Phillies fans find themselves out in the area, they can find more information on the winery here. As of now the winery is not open for tours or tastings, but should you find yourself visiting Oracle Park it may be worth trying to track down a bottle of Blanton's wine.