In celebration of Black History Month, throughout February, teams across Minor League Baseball are taking a look back at some of the best Black players to suit up for their club.
In this article we will be showcasing five players who've had a tremendous impact both on and off the field for the City of Wilmington.
JUDY JOHNSON – Judy Johnson never spent time with the Blue Rocks, but his legacy continues to resonate in the City of Wilmington and in our community. William Julius “Judy” Johnson was born in 1899 in Snow Hill, Maryland but moved to Wilmington, Delaware early in his childhood. His career as a professional baseball player spanned from 1921-1937. He was also the first person from Delaware to be elected into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown in 1975.
The Blue Rocks honor the local legend every season by highlighting his contributions to the game, and his impact on the local community, and the importance of his role of the integration of Negro League Baseball into Major League Baseball.
For more information on the life and legacy of Judy Johnson, please visit our Legacy of Judy Johnson webpage: https://www.milb.com/wilmington/community/legacy-of-judy-johnson/.
TERRANCE GORE – Terrance Gore made his debut with the Blue Rocks during the 2014 season. The five-foot, seven-inch outfielder made an immediate impact for the Rocks, as he got on base with 55 hits and 20 walks in his 287 plate appearances that season. His speed was most noticeable, as he swiped a team-leading 36 bases (out of 40 attempts) for a 90% stolen base average.
His speed got him a nod to quick promotion, as the Macon, Georgia native was sent to Triple-A Omaha, where he finished the minor league season with an additional 11 stolen bases. Since the then parent-club Kansas City Royals were in a pennant chase in 2014, Gore got the call to the big leagues, and made his Major League debut on August 31, 2014. In 11 games, he swiped an additional five bags. Gore was activated for the Royals postseason roster and contributed a stolen base in the come-back win over the Oakland A’s in the American League Wild Card Game. He added two additional steals for the eventual American League champions during their Divisional Series against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.
Gore continued to be a tear on the bases, as he spent parts of the 2014-17 seasons with the Royals, before moving onto the Chicago Cubs in 2018, and then back to the Royals in 2019. In the pandemic-shortened season, Gore was a member of the World Series champion Los Angeles Dodgers, and in 2021, captured another World Series ring with the Atlanta Braves.
MICHAEL TUCKER – Michael Tucker was a member of the inaugural modern Blue Rocks team in 1993. The South Boston, Virginia native, and first round selection (10th overall) by the Kansas City Royals in the 1992 June Free Agent Draft, made his professional debut as a player for the Blue Rocks in 1993. In his first 61 games, he smacked 14 doubles along with six home runs, 44 RBIs, while he swiped 12 stolen bases and scored 42 runs before his mid-season promotion to Double-A Memphis. He would finish the 1993 season in Memphis. In 1994, he spent the entire season in Triple-A Omaha. He appeared in 132 games and was amongst the leaders in most offensive categories. Some argue he would have made his Major League debut that year, if it was not for the MLB lock-out. Starting the 1995 season in Omaha, Tucker played in a handful of games before getting the call from Kansas City that his time to join the Royals had come.
On April 26, 1995, he made his Major League debut with the Royals. He and Chris Eddy made their debuts on the exact same day (Eddy with the Oakland A’s). Tucker and Eddy were just the second and third Blue Rocks to make it to the big leagues (the first was Jon Lieber on May 15, 1994).
Tucker would play for the Royals in parts of the 1995 and 1996 seasons, before being traded to the Atlanta Braves with Keith Lockhart for Jermaine Dye and Jamie Walker. Tucker would be traded five times in his career, and spent time with the Royals (1995-96, 2002-03), Braves (1997-98), Cincinnati Reds (1999-2001), Chicago Cubs (2001), San Francisco Giants (2004-05), Philadelphia Phillies (2005) and New York Mets (2006).
Tucker retired after spending the 2007 season with the Triple-A Pawtucket Red Sox. His Major League career spanned 12 years, which saw him appear in 1,417 games. He smashed 125 home runs with 528 RBIs, along with 208 doubles, 49 triples, 490 walks, 114 stolen bases and 625 runs scored for his career. Tucker also saw time in the postseason in 1997 and 1998 with the Braves and in 2006 for the Mets.
DONOVAN DELANEY – Donovan Delaney is one of the more familiar names to early Blue Rocks fans. The Shreveport, Louisiana native was drafted by the Kansas City Royals in the 45th round of the 1993 June Free Agent Draft out of Bossier Parish Community College in Bossier City, Louisiana. The outfielder joined the Eugene Emeralds in 1994 and smacked six home runs, 16 doubles and 33 RBIs in 63 games for his minor league rookie season. In 1995, he was assigned to Wilmington. In his first season with the Rocks, he batted .250 with a team-leading seven triples, adding 13 doubles, three homers, and 39 RBIs, as the Blue Rocks made the Carolina League postseason and won the Northern Division Championship Series.
The following season, Delaney was a solid contributor on the field. In 124 games, he collected 105 hits (17 doubles, four triples, and four home runs) to help lead the Rocks to the 1996 Carolina League title, the second championship in franchise history.
Delaney spent the 1997 season in Wilmington and was amongst the offensive leaders, as he played in 124 games. Following the 1997 season, Delaney made a career change within baseball, as the Royals converted him from a position player into a pitcher.
In 1998, Delaney appeared in 25 games for the Low-A Lansing Lugnuts of the Midwest League. In his 36.2 innings pitched, he had a 3.19 ERA with 47 strikeouts and three saves with 12 games finished. The 1999 season would be his final season in baseball, but his fourth overall with the Blue Rocks. He made 23 relief appearances for the Rocks, with three saves, for the 1999 Carolina League co-Champions. To date, Delaney holds the distinction as the longest-tenured Blue Rocks players (in terms of seasons in Wilmington, 1995-97, 99).
Following the 1999 season, Delaney retired from baseball and remained a pillar in the local community. Delaney joined the New Castle County Police, and currently serves as a Sergeant with the police force.
JARROD DYSON – Jarrod Dyson spent the 2008 season in Wilmington. The McComb, Mississippi native played in 93 games for the Blue Rocks. That season he batted .260 with 32 walks, 24 RBIs, and 40 runs scored. He had an impressive 39 stolen bases, but was second behind teammate Derrick Robinson, who had 62 steals. In total, the 2008 club had 258 base swipes. Dyson also contributed 32 walks to a team that compiled 496 in total (led by that season’s leader, Josh Johnson).
Dyson made his Major League debut on September 7, 2010 for the Kansas City Royals. Over the next 11 seasons he saw time with six teams, with a majority of his career spent in Kansas City (also played for the Seattle Mariners, Arizona Diamondbacks, Chicago White Sox, Pittsburgh Pirates and Toronto Blue Jays). He has appeared in 992 regular season games, batting .244 with 83 doubles, 38 triples, 21 home runs, 185 RBIs, and 387 runs scored.
Dyson saw time in the Major League postseason on both the American League champion Royals team in 2014, and the World Series champion Royals in 2015. During those two postseason runs, the outfielder saw action in 19 games, with 20 at bats and two walks. He also demonstrated speed on the base paths with four stolen bases. He appeared in two games during the 2020 postseason with the White Sox. Dyson was granted free agency on November 3, 2021.