Blue Rocks celebrate Hall-of-Famer Johnson
You can look at the written record. You can read the accounts of those who saw him play. Judy Johnson stands as one of baseball's greatest. Although he's in the Hall of Fame and is by no means unknown to the sport's history buffs, Johnson remains undercelebrated. For most fans,
You can look at the written record. You can read the accounts of those who saw him play. Judy Johnson stands as one of baseball's greatest.
Although he's in the Hall of Fame and is by no means unknown to the sport's history buffs, Johnson remains undercelebrated. For most fans, his name is probably not among the first all-time-great third basemen who come to mind. He might not even be among the Negro League legends a casual fan can name offhand.
The Wilmington Blue Rocks, High-A affiliate of the Washington Nationals, are doing everything in their power to change that. Born on Maryland's Eastern Shore and moving with his family some 100 miles due north to Delaware's biggest city when he was a boy, Johnson fell in love with the game early and spent every moment he could playing ball with other kids -- both Black and white -- at a park on the corner of Second and Dupont Streets.
- Blue Rocks' rich Judy Johnson collection
- Life & legacy
- Career stats
- The Blue Rocks & Judy Johnson Night
- Landmarks and museums featuring Judy Johnson
- More Judy Johnson resources
- The Blue Rocks & MiLB's 'The Nine' initiative
Today, that park is named after Johnson, and not two miles away is another monument to the hometown hero. The entryway to Judy Johnson Field at Frawley Stadium, where the Blue Rocks play, features a stately bronze statue of Johnson atop a marble block. It -- along with the name of their playing surface -- might be among the most visible ways the Blue Rocks pay homage to the legend, but it's only one piece of a vast mosaic.
“One of the things that’s really important to us at the Blue Rocks is that our ballpark is not just a celebration of baseball but a celebration of our community," Blue Rocks majority owner and managing partner Dave Heller said. "To have one of the all-time-greatest third basemen in the history of baseball who’s a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame come from Delaware and to be able to celebrate him and his legacy is a really important thing.
“Nobody thinks twice that there would be statue of Brooks Robinson in front of Camden Yards. It would be crazy for us not to have a statue of Judy Johnson in front of our ballpark. We are so proud of Judy Johnson as a native son of Delaware and to be able to celebrate him and his accomplishments.”
Last February, the Blue Rocks launched "The Legacy of Judy Johnson," a comprehensive web collection of Johnson-related information, historical resources, articles, tributes and details about the myriad ways the Wilmington team honors the ballplayer and the man -- including an annual appreciation night at the yard.
“The fact that we have a Judy Johnson Appreciation Night and proactively celebrate him every year speaks to the Blue Rocks’ efforts be as inclusive as possible in a wonderful and diverse community like we have in Wilmington, Delaware,” Heller said.
For more -- lots more -- about Judy Johnson, his connection to Delaware and the Blue Rocks' celebration of his life, career and influence on the game, check out "The Legacy of Judy Johnson."
Josh Jackson is an editor for MiLB.com. Follow and interact with him on Twitter @JoshJacksonMiLB.