Wilmington Blue Rocks
Baseball has a rich tradition in many places, not the least of which is Delaware. As an alum of the Wilmington Semi Pro League I can attest first hand to the enthusiasm for baseball in the first state.
Obviously the Phillies are very popular in Delaware as well, I dug into the archives of Phillies minor league history ... perhaps even some Delawareans aren’t even aware that the Fightin’s had two affiliations in the First State. Here’s a bit about the Wilmington franchise.
Wilmington Blue Rocks
Time Period - 1944 to 1952
Level of Play : B
Venue : Wilmington Field
City : Wilmington, DE
Franchise History :
The original Blue Rocks franchise began in 1940 and was founded by former Phillies owner Bob Carpenter. He formed a partnership with Connie Mack and from 1940 to 1943 the team played as an affiliate of the Philadelphia A’s in the Interstate League. Mr. Carpenter appointed his son Ruly Carpenter as the President of the Blue Rocks franchise. Connie Mack was VP and Roy Mack was Treasurer. Dang, that’s a lot of Baseball Royalty right there 😳.
The Blue Rocks name is attributed to the blue granite found along the Brandywine River and was the brainchild of Robert Miller who submitted the name in a “name the team” contest.
When the Carpenter family purchased the Phillies in 1943 the Blue Rocks left the A’s to became an affiliate of the Phillies. They played from 1944 to 1952 in the Interstate League. The Blue Rocks were a wholly owned franchise of the Phillies from 1945 to 1952.
The Interstate League disbanded in 1952 and the Blue Rocks franchise dissolved. In 1993 the team name was resurrected when Frank Boulton and Bud Harrelson purchased the Peninsula Pilots franchise and moved it the Wilmington. The current version of the Blue Rocks are a Class A Affiliate of the KC Royals and a member of the Carolina League, they play at Daniel S Frawley Stadium.
The Stadium the Phillies played in :
Wilmington Park built in 1939 was located on the corner of 30th Street and Governor Printz Boulevard. In addition to bring the home of the Blue Rocks It also served as the home of the University of Delaware Blue Hens football team and as the home of the Wilmington Clippers, a minor league football team. It hosted spring training for the A’s in 1943 and the Phillies in 1944 and 1945 due to WWII travel restrictions.
The baseball seating capacity was 7,000. Field dimensions were spacious ... 355 to LF, 420 to CF and 370 to RF. Home plate was relocated in 1944 so that the dimensions were 324-439-369 but the park still played huge.
Many big league Exhibition games were played at the Park including a 1955 contest between the Phillies and Yankees in which outfielders Del Ennis and Richie Ashburn collided chasing down a drive off the bat of Mickey Mantle. Ennis suffered a broken leg while Ashburn sprained his left knee. Both players missed action and the injury broke a consecutive games played streak of Ashburn’s at 731 games played.
The last exhibition game played at the Park was in 1955 between the A’s and the Phillies. In 1963 Wilmington Park was demolished.
The Seasons :
Interstate League . . . Managers : Fred Dorman, Cy Morgan and Bob Brubaker . . . 74-64 , second place - regular season , lost in playoffs to Lancaster Red Roses 3 games to 0 . . . Attendance: 172,531
Interstate League . . . Managers : Cy Morgan and Bob Brubaker . . . 81-57, second place - regular season , lost in playoffs to Allentown Cardinals 4 games to 3 . . . Attendance: ??????
20 year old RHP George Estock led the league with 22 wins, he posted a 2.90 ERA
Interstate League . . . Manager : Jack Saltzgaver. . . 87-53, first place - regular season. . . lost in Championship Series to Harrisburg Senators 4 games to 1 ... Attendance: ??????
21 year old Outfielder Ed Sanicki set a league record with 144 RBIs and led the league with 30 home runs.
RHP George Copeland went 15-3 and led the league in ERA with a 2.76 mark
Interstate League . . . Manager : Jack Saltzgaver . . . 79-60, second place - regular season . . . Won the league championship defeating Allentown Cardinals 4 games to 3 ... Attendance : 123,491
22 year old Outfielder Ed Sanicki set a league record with 37 home runs, he also led the league with 127 runs scored
18 year old Curt Simmons went 13-5 with a 2.69 ERA in 18 games ( 147 IP )
Interstate League . . . Manager : Jack Sanford . . . 82-56, first place - regular season. . . Lost in playoffs to York White Roses 4 games to 1 ... Attendance : 102,197
23 year old RHP George Eyrich set a league record with 49 appearances
26 year old Second Baseman Mike Goliat led the league in runs scored ( 123 ) ... he hit
.315 in 482 AB’s
21 year old Robin Roberts went 9-1 with a 2.06 ERA in 11 games ( 96 IP ) ... he led the league in ERA
Interstate League . . . Manager : Jack Sanford . . . 75-62, second place - regular season. . . Lost in playoffs to Trenton Giants 4 games to 2 ... Attendance: 52,427
25 year old RHP Jack Brittin went 21-7 with a 2.92 ERA in 33 games ( 240 IP ) ... he led the league in wins
Interstate League . . . Manager : Skeeter Newsome . . . 82-56, first place - regular season. . . Won the League Championship defeating Hagerstown Braves 4 games to 1 Attendance: 37,550
23 year old RHP Leo Cristante went 18-5 with a 2.34 ERA in 26 games ( 196 IP ) ... he led the league in wins
22 year old Outfielder Danny Schell led the league in hits ( 171 ) and RBIs ( 104 ) ... he hit .320 in 534 AB’s
22 year old Second Baseman Dick Young led the league in runs scored ( 101 )
Interstate League . . . Manager : Danny Carnevale . . . 83-52, third place - regular season. . . Won the League Championship defeating Sunbury Giants 4 games to 0 ... Attendance: 43,135
21 year old LHP Tom Casagrande threw two no hitters. He lost an 11 inning game to York 1-0 on July 18th and defeated Harrisburg 4-0 in a seven inning game on August 20th.
25 year old LHP Niles Jordan went 21-3 with a 2.18 ERA in 28 games ( 206 IP )
Interstate League . . . Manager : Lee Riley . . . 72-66, fifth place - regular season. . . Attendance: 24,526
32 year old Catcher Lou Heyman led the league in home runs with 30
Happy Day, Happy Baseball ⚾️