Wilmington, DE- The Wilmington Blue Rocks were honored by the Carolina League on Thursday with the Matt Minker Community Service Award, which goes to the club that best demonstrates an outstanding, on-going commitment to charitable service, support, and leadership within its community. The award is named after the Blue Rocks' founder, who owned the club until his death in 2007. Minker, whose construction company also built Frawley Stadium, is still the team's honorary president. It is the second year the title has been awarded to an entire organization, after going to individual players since its inception in 2009. The Blue Rocks have been the recipient both years.
"Matt Minker was instrumental in laying the foundation for the Blue Rocks and for the franchise's success in the years to follow," said Blue Rocks general manager Chris Kemple. "It is fitting that this award bears his name and we are absolutely thrilled as an organization to honor his legacy for a second consecutive season by earning this recognition."
The Blue Rocks won the award thanks in large part to their numerous school programs, charitable endeavors and hospital visits.
As an organization the Blue Rocks work with area schools to promote academic achievement (DSEA Rocky's Reading Challenge), citizenship (IFS Outstanding Student Program), active lifestyles (Titus Sports Champions Physical Health Program), and overall knowledge (Discover Baseball and Education Day).
The team helped raise tens of thousands of dollars for good causes through partnerships with Habitat For Humanity, Fight for the Gold, Delaware Breast Cancer Coalition and many other charities in 2015. It also contributed over 500 pounds of food to the Delaware Food Bank thanks to a partnership with Janssen's Market and the generosity of Blue Rocks fans. Several times each season the team also visited the Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital For Children, brightening the spirits of that facility's patients and their families.
"We could not accomplish much of what we do without the partnership and cooperation of our players and the Kansas City Royals organization," said Blue Rocks director of community affairs Kevin P. Linton. "Their dedication to community embodies the vision that Matt Minker set forth for the Blue Rocks franchise and that we continue to follow to this day."
Community service is so engrained within the organization that three of the five times the award was presented to individual players it went to Blue Rocks. Everett Teaford was the inaugural winner in 2009 and was followed by Tim Melville in 2011 and Whit Merrifield in 2012.
As the Carolina League's recipient of the Matt Minker Award, the Blue Rocks received the eight-team league's automatic nomination for the John Henry Moss Community Service Award, given out by Minor League Baseball at its annual national convention, to be held this December in Nashville.
The Blue Rocks, who drew 282,437 fans to Frawley Stadium in 2015 and averaged more than 4,100 patrons per game, will release game times and ticket information for the 2016 campaign later in the offseason. Fans should call 302-888-BLUE or visit BlueRocks.com for more information.