Last season was the 20th anniversary of the Wilmington Blue Rocks, the High-A affiliate of the Kansas City Royals. Their organization put together a top 20 players list for the team’s first twenty seasons, which gave me an idea. I decided this offseason to put together a list of my top 20 Blue Rocks moments (which may include some of those top players). I have been attending Blue Rocks games since 1995 and have seen some great games and players that may or may not have reached the big leagues.
So let the countdown begin:
#20: The advent of Mr. Celery.
Prior to the 2000 season, the Blue Rocks found an old celery costume at the ballpark and decided to put it to good use. Then one night during the 2000 season, out came Mr. Celery from the home team clubhouse tunnel to celebrate a run scoring. Mr. Celery did a little celebratory dance behind home plate and ran back inside the tunnel.
I was an usher at the time and people could not believe when I told them this was the actual story. No big thing behind the beginning of Mr. Celery. Just dusting off an old costume.
As word spread about the new mascot, so did its popularity. A group of college students from the University of Delaware took over the first few rows of section C (the closest section to Mr. Celery’s entrance that wasn’t field level) and deemed themselves the “Celery Squad”. They were always looking for new recruits to chant “We Want Celery” when the Blue Rocks had base runners and to wave their stalks of celery. When the Blue Rocks scored a run, they would run down near the tunnel just to get a high-five.
Every year, there is always a story about an opposing team hiding the costume. The former Kinston Indians team even took the costume out to their bullpen and wore it during a game.
Now, Mr. Celery is still popular, but not as popular, with the Celery Squad moving on and nobody taking their place. After each Blue Rocks run that scores, Mr. Celery does a dance and runs along the netting behind home plate to high-five excited fans. He comes running out to Blur’s “Song 2″, but more specifically “Woo Hoo!”
I’m not sure who is more excited, the kids or the adults.
Some even forget that Rocky Bluewinkle is the Blue Rocks actual mascot, not Mr. Celery. But it makes him a big money-maker and a must-see for fans visiting Wilmington. And scoring runs is always a good thing, right?