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Blue Rocks a Finalist for Minor League Baseball Award

September 3, 2020 - Carolina League (CarL) - Wilmington Blue Rocks News Release

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 following an emotional time for the Minor League Baseball industry, as the 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, a Wilmington native, who 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 and many others, Hill's vision was finally on track to become a reality. "The kids I wanted to reach in this clinic are the ones who may not have 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 kids. 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 both the life of Judy Johnson, and encouraging each camper to identify their true value, and to build upon their individual character and focus on their future goals.

Prior to the clinic, Hill and the Blue Rocks made a call to the community for equipment donations. The call was answered and an overwhelming amount of new and gently used equipment was dropped off at Frawley Stadium leading up to the event. Campers could take from the donations based upon their individual need, and many left the clinic with gloves, bats, helmets, cleats, baseball pants and more.

Hill led all on-field instructions with help from professional and college coaches and players. Hill 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 made community their top priority and have won the Carolina League's Matt Minker Community Service Award five times. The Minker Award is earned by the Carolina League club that best demonstrates an outstanding, ongoing commitment to charitable service, support, and leadership within its community. In addition, 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.

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