Blanco, though, took his father's passing as a challenge to play harder for him, he told The Journal Times.
"He taught me just to give 100 percent all the time," Blanco told The Journal Times. "I remember that every day, especially when I'm tired. I take that with me, just like if he was beside me."
Blanco continued to give his all and he did so over the next 13 major league seasons. By the time his career was done, he'd seen time in a total of 16 big league campaigns and nearly a quarter century of baseball.
He's since gone on to continue in the game as a coach.
Blanco's career began in 1989, signed by the Dodgers as an amateur free agent out of his native Venezuela.
Blanco started with the Dodgers in 1990, in the rookie Gulf Coast League at Kissimmee. The third baseman hit .219 in 60 games.
He played at rookie Great Falls in 1991, then high-A Bakersfield in 1992. He made AA San Antonio for 1993 and 1994.
He got his first look at catching at San Antonio in 1995 and soon made the switch full time for 1996.
Blanco got his first look at the majors in 1997, a three-game look with the Dodgers. He went 2 for 5.
He returned to the majors in 1999 with the Rockies. He hit .232 in 88 games there.
Blanco played 2000 and 2001 with the Brewers in Milwaukee, then 2002 with the Braves. He saw 81 games that year and hit .204.
Blanco also became Greg Maddux' personal catcher in 2002. He hit a two-run home run to win a June game against the Mets. His skills behind the plate and at the plate drew praise from teammate Chipper Jones, according to The New York Post.
"He's hit two game-winning home runs for us, not to mention he's the best defensive catcher in the league" Jones told The Post.
Blanco moved to the Twins for 2004, then the Cubs for 2005. He stayed in Chicago for four seasons.
Blanco signed with the Padres for 2009 and Padres GM Kevin Towers explained to ESPN why.
"We wanted somebody who not only would have a strong clubhouse presence but somebody who's caught some of the elite pitchers in the game and also somebody who can help a guy like Nick Hundley hopefully grow into one of the elite everyday catchers in the game," Towers told ESPN.
Blanco continued playing in the majors through 2013. In August 2013, at the age of 41, he hit a late home run that proved the game-winner.
Blanco had hopes of continuing in 2014, but those hopes soon turned into a coaching job with the Diamondbacks and the end of his playing career.
He coached with the Diamondbacks that year, then three seasons with the Cubs. He arrived in Washington for 2018, where he remained as bullpen coach for 2019.
- Racine Journal Times, July 26, 2000: Blanco finds inspiration amid the losses
- New York Post, June 6, 2002: Atlanta's success is Blanco & White
- ESPN, Jan. 21, 2009: Catcher Blanco, Pads agree
Made the Majors:1,140-36.5%-X
Never Made Majors:1,987-63.5%
5+ Seasons in the Majors: 473-X
10+ Seasons in the Minors:282