It really doesn’t matter whether you believe that baseball is truly America’s pastime and the best sport ever invented or if you don’t know a thing about the game but sure love to watch monkeys ride around the field on border collies, the Wilmington Blue Rocks have something for you.
Part sporting event, part carnival and all fun, the 70 Blue Rocks home games at Daniel S. Frawley Stadium provide entertainment for a broad spectrum of fans, from the youngsters visiting the ballpark for the first time to old timers for whom the crack of the bat sounds better than a symphony.
“In a lot of ways, the environment is more important than the baseball itself,” says Joe Valenti, who is entering his 10th year as the team’s Director of Marketing. “We don’t have the household names the major leagues have, and our players change so much because they are hopefully being called up to higher levels, so the fans can’t build a years-long connection with the players.
“But we cater to young families. We give them something to do.”
The Blue Rocks sure do that. They have a jam-packed promotional schedule that includes a variety of offerings. One of the most popular is the Friday fireworks night, which Valenti says is “one of the better shows around”, based on his viewing several other presentations at stadiums and towns. Five times this season, fans will be able to experience the Cowboy Monkey Rodeo, one of the most unique promotions around. A former rodeo cowboy dresses up capuchin monkeys in western gear, perches them on border collies, and they herd a group of rams around the stadium. It doesn’t get much better than that.
Thursday nights, the Blue Rocks partner with Dogfish Head Brewery to offer discounts on draught and bottled beer, making the game a perfect guy’s night out. Former Phillies closer Mitch Williams will make an appearance during the 2016 season, as will pro wrestler Matt Hardy, one of the Hardy Boyz. In between innings, the club sponsors trivia contests and mascot races. The action isn’t confined to the field during games, though. The concourse at Frawley Stadium hops with a moon bounce, clowns and celebrity appearances.
And for those who look forward to heading home with more than just great memories, the team will be offering a series of bobbleheads of former Blue Rock players Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas and Salvador Perez, all of whom were on the Royals 2015 World Series championship team.
“There were 11 players on that Royals roster who played for the Blue Rocks,” Valenti says. “Fans are getting a chance to see players who are the future of baseball. Some of them will eventually reach the major-league level and could be playing in the World Series some day.”
For kids who hope to have that opportunity, the Blue Rocks offer a great way to learn. On certain game days, the club offers morning camps that include instruction from the Blue Rocks on the Frawley diamond. Young players work at stations to build skills, go through various drills and then scrimmage. Those who participate get a ticket to the game that night and the kind of coaching not available anywhere else.
“The camps are sold in two-game increments and they take place rain or shine,” Valenti says. “It’s a little tougher when it rains, but we do things in the cages beneath the stadium and in the dugouts.”
The Blue Rocks Experience is one part of the burgeoning waterfront scene in Wilmington that includes restaurants, shops, apartment complexes, the new IMAX Theater and the trampoline park.
“I’ve been here 10 years, and the area has grown exponentially,” Valenti says. “The area is revitalized and has experienced a huge rebirth.”
The Blue Rocks are central to that whole scene and offer the opportunity for a great outing of fun and excitement at affordable prices.
“We shoot to have something for everybody,” Valenti say. “We cater to the huge baseball junkie and the person who is just starting out. Or, we have something for the person who doesn’t follow baseball that much. We try to provide as much entertainment value as possible.”
The Wilmington Blue Rocks are a Class A Carolina League team that plays its home games on Judy Johnson Field at Daniel S. Frawley Stadium, located at 801 Shipyard Drive in Wilmington. The team is an affiliate of the Kansas City Royals and plays a 70-game home schedule with games from April until early September. For more information, visit www.bluerocks.com or call 888-2015.