Tribute to Negro Leagues Baseball



Wilmington, Delaware: On Saturday, August 17th, the City of Wilmington and Wilmington Blue Rocks will sponsor the Seventh Annual Judy Johnson Night — A Tribute to Negro League Baseball, honoring baseball Hall of Famer and long-time Wilmington resident William (Judy) Johnson. The Carolina League (Class A) game between the Blue Rocks and the Salem Avalanche will be played at Wilmington’s Judy Johnson Field at Daniel S. Frawley Stadium at 7:05 PM, with pregame ceremonies beginning at 6:30 PM.

Judy Johnson (1899–1989) was an exceptional defensive third baseman and clutch hitter who batted over .300 lifetime. Johnson began his career in 1921 and spent 18 years in the Negro Leagues, mostly with the Pittsburgh Crawfords and the Hilldale Club of Philadelphia. In 1935, Johnson captained the Negro National League champion Crawfords, which boasted four other future Hall of Famers — Satchel Paige, Josh Gibson, Oscar Charleston, and Cool Papa Bell. Many baseball researchers and historians consider the 1935 Pittsburgh Crawfords to be the most talented and dominant team ever in the Negro Leagues. Johnson retired from playing baseball after the 1936 season, but he remained active as a scout and coach for the Philadelphia Athletics and Phillies for nearly 50 years. In 1975, Johnson was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York.

As in past years, a number of special activities and events are planned for this year’s Judy Johnson Night. Wilmington Mayor James Baker will serve as Master of Ceremonies for the on-field introduction of former players of the Negro Leagues, including Wilmington’s own Leroy (Toots) Ferrell and players from the Philadelphia Stars, Baltimore Elite Giants, and Newark Eagles. This year’s honoree is the late baseball immortal Jackie Robinson, who began his Hall of Fame career in the Negro Leagues with the Kansas City Monarchs. Past honorees have included Johnson (1996), Buck O’Neil (1997), Gene Benson (1998), Gibson (1999), Ferrell (2000), and Leon Day (2001). Other planned highlights will include a commemorative postal cancellation issued by the US Postal Service, a silent auction of Negro League and sports memorabilia and collectibles, and a sale of Negro League memorabilia. On the field, players and coaches of the Avalanche and Blue Rocks will be wearing replica uniforms of Negro League teams. In addition, two college-bound high school seniors will be awarded $500 Judy Johnson Memorial Scholarships. These awards are based primarily on sportsmanship and recipients are selected from participants in the Annual Blue-Gold (Delaware) All-Star Baseball Game.

Anyone interested in attending this special event should contact the Blue Rocks’ ticket office at 302-888-BLUE (2583). Requests from the media should be addressed to Chris Kemple, c/o the Wilmington Blue Rocks, 801 S. Madison Street, Wilmington, DE 19801; Phone: 302-888-2015; Fax: 302-888-2032; E-mail:

For more additional information, please contact Gregg Truitt at 801 Partridge Court, Hockessin, DE 19707 Phone: 302-886-7519; E-Mail:

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