Wilmington, DE – A first-time community program led by Blue Rocks outfielder Tyler Hill has been selected as a finalist for Minor League Baseball’s ‘Golden Bobblehead Awards.’ The announcement comes amidst an emotional time for the Minor League Baseball industry, as the 2020 season was ultimately canceled in June because
Wilmington, DE – A first-time community program led by Blue Rocks outfielder Tyler Hill has been selected as a finalist for Minor League Baseball’s ‘Golden Bobblehead Awards.’ The announcement comes amidst an emotional time for the Minor League Baseball industry, as the 2020 season was ultimately canceled in June because of the Coronavirus pandemic.
On Monday, July 27, The Wilmington Blue Rocks joined forces with Hill to host the first ever Judy Johnson Baseball Skills Clinic at Frawley Stadium. The clinic had been a long-time idea of Hill’s who, as a Wilmington-native, saw the chance to bring some good to his community during a canceled Minor League season. “I’ve always had a vision of giving back to the community by bringing kids together from all different backgrounds and introducing the game of baseball to a new generation.” Hill said.
The inspiration behind the clinic’s name came from Wilmington’s own Judy Johnson–the namesake of the Blue Rocks playing field. Johnson was considered one of the best third basemen to ever play in the Negro Leagues, and his 17-year career was rightfully recognized with his enshrinement into the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY in 1975. Johnson’s contributions to the game of baseball are permanently remembered with a statue of his likeness on the front plaza of Frawley Stadium.
Following a lengthy planning process that included Hill, the City of Wilmington, Blue Rocks General Manager Andrew Layman and Director of Community Affairs Kevin Linton – among others – Hill’s vision finally became a reality. “The kids I wanted to reach in this clinic are the ones who may nothave the opportunity to play on travel teams to experience the showcases due to financial hardships, family support and things like that,” said Hill.
The clinic was split into two sessions–morning and afternoon–and was attended by nearly 100 local youth. Participants came from area organizations such as the Wilmington Little League, Roberto Clemente Little League and the Kingswood Community Center. The day featured basic baseball drills, skills challenges and scrimmages. Each camper received complimentary lunch and snacks throughout the day, provided by Maryland Avenue Sub Shop, Chef Robbie Jester, The Hill Family and the City of Wilmington.
All participants were also addressed by the University of Delaware professor Ron Whittington, who discussed the life of Judy Johnson, encouraged each camper to identify their true value, to build upon their individual character and to focus on their future goals.
Prior to the clinic, Hill and the Blue Rocks made a call to the local community for equipment donations. The call was answered and an overwhelming amount of both new and gently used equipment was dropped off at Frawley Stadium prior to the event. Campers were able to select their equipment from the donations based upon their individual needs and many left the clinic with their first glove, bat, helmet, cleats, baseball pants and more.
Hill led all on-field instructions with help from professional and college coaches and players. He was all smiles after the day had concluded. “Everything went so smoothly from start to finish. We had full attendance from campers and great support from the volunteers. People keep asking when next year’s clinic will be and I can’t wait to have that answer.”
“The Blue Rocks are very fortunate to have Tyler Hill living locally and that he has a heart to make a positive impact in our area,” said Linton. “It was incredible to see the support from our community, especially with the tremendous response for the equipment donations. Our aim is to make this an annual event and we look forward to building this into one of the strongest community initiatives in the future.”
The Blue Rocks have always aimed to make community involvement a top priority. The organization has won the Carolina League’s Matt Minker Community Service Award five times. The award is presented annually to the Carolina League club that best demonstrates an outstanding, ongoing commitment to charitable service, support, and leadership within its community. Additionally, the Blue Rocks have also received five nominations for Minor League Baseball’s John Henry Moss Award.
The Wilmington Blue Rocks are the Advanced-A affiliate of the Kansas City Royals and the 2019 Mills Cup Champions.