On Saturday night, the Wilmington Blue Rocks (the High-A affiliate of the KC Royals) held their annual Judy Johnson Night to honor the legendary Negro League player from Delaware.
Prior to the game, the team honored many Negro Leaguers and their families. During the game, you could bid on autographed items from past and current baseball players. You could also bid on the jerseys worn by the Blue Rocks players. Plus, the Negro League players were on hand to sign autographs and tell stores.
The Blue Rocks were wearing special Jackie Robinson jerseys that they wore back in April on Jackie Robinson Night. The jerseys look similar to the Dodgers current uniforms, but with “Blue Rocks” scrolled across the front.
Judy Johnson Night is the one game I circle on my Blue Rocks schedule every season. I love being able to hear the stories of former Negro League players and getting to see the old uniforms (which the Blue Rocks no longer wear). I was born in 1981 and always wished I could have seen some of the great Negro League players in action.
The one player I wished I could have seen play was Jackie Robinson, which made seeing the movie “42″ such an experience for me. It also was great to see the Blue Rocks honor him on Saturday night.
Following the game, I had a chance to ask a few about what it meant to them to wear 42. The first was second baseman Justin Trapp, one of three African-American players on the Blue Rocks roster.
“Wow. 42 is Jackie Robinson. If it wasn’t for Jackie Robinson I probably would not be able to play this game today. I’m very thankful and very humbled to be able to wear number 42. And I salute Jackie Robinson.” All said with a smile on his face.
The newest Blue Rocks, designated hitter Sam Bates, talked about what it meant to him to wear 42:
“It’s pretty cool. After seeing the movie and everything coming out this year, it’s a great story. It’s good to represent that.”
Blue Rocks manager Vance Wilson loved the fact that he and his players had the opportunity to wear 42:
“It’s awesome. I’m a traditionalist. I really enjoy the past, the guys that play this game. The game has changed so much, become entertainment with obviously the money and things. Obviously when you are able to represent a man who stood for what he stood for and did for the game what he did, it’s always special.”
For photos of all of the Blue Rocks starters wearing their 42 jerseys, click HERE.