While the Wilmington Blue Rocks prepare for Opening Day, fans and players have more than just baseball season to celebrate, as 2022 marks the team’s 30th year on the Wilmington riverfront.
In 1992, the Peninsula Pilots of Virginia were purchased and relocated to Wilmington, Delaware. The team then joined the Carolina League in 1993 and was renamed the Wilmington Blue Rocks after the blue granite rock found in the city’s Brandywine River.
The Blue Rock’s presence at the riverfront has also been credited as aiding Wilmington’s redevelopment since its construction in the early 1990s as a part of the revitalization campaign.
“The Blue Rocks really helped start the revitalization of this area,” Liz Welch, the assistant general manager of the Blue Rocks, said. “So we’re really conscious of making sure that our celebration is not just about the Blue Rocks and all of the great players that have come through here, but also about the city of Wilmington and where we stand on the riverfront.”
Of the great players that Welch mentions, 200 of them have seen time on various Major League Baseball teams. The first Blue Rock to reach such heights was the pitcher Jon Lieber in 1994 who became a starter for the Pittsburgh Pirates. Since then, Wilmington players have stared at every position on a major league ball field with notable players including Carlos Beltran, Mike Moustakas and Danny Duffy.
“We’re doing a 200 player poster to highlight our 200 former Blue Rocks players who’ve made it to the big leagues, with Jon Lieber being number one and a guy who pitched here last year, Joan Adon, who was number 200,” Kevin Linton, public address announcer and front office employee, said. “Everybody in between is listed on that poster.”
In addition to the commemorative poster, the Blue Rocks will look to highlight Jon Lieber with a bobblehead later in the season. Mike Sweeney, a former Blue Rock who spent time with the Philadelphia Phillies, will also receive the bobblehead treatment over the summer.
With a decrease in COVID restrictions, the Blue Rocks cite plans to increase fan participation within the promotions and giveaways the Daniel S. Frawley Stadium has always enjoyed.
“The promotions and the giveaways are back. Last year, we had limitations… and we were perfectly happy to operate within those limitations, but we’re happy to have those loosened up a bit,” Welch said. “I think the fan experience is really going to notch back up to where it needs to be.”
The season will officially start for the Blue Rocks on Friday, April 8, at 6:35 p.m. as they take on the Brooklyn Cyclones, High-A affiliate of the New York Mets. The night will feature a celebration of baseball, the chainsaw juggler Mad Chad, and post-game fireworks.
Fans can purchase their tickets to opening week on the Wilmington Blue Rocks website where the 30th-anniversary promotion is currently selling four opening weekend tickets for $30.
“We’re having a chainsaw juggler. We’re having a giveaway. We’re having fireworks. Anything anybody wants to see,” Welch said. “We just want to have a lot of fun.”
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