My number four top Wilmington Blue Rocks moment is…
Brian Sanches throwing the Blue Rocks only nine inning no-hitter in 2000.
It was May 2, 2000 and the Lynchburg Hillcats were in town. I was down the right field line working as an usher in the general admission section at Frawley Stadium (which is no longer there). Since I was working, I spent most of the night trying to stay out of fans’ sight lines, keeping fans from bothering the players in the bullpen (which was right in front of GA), and helping get the promotions and grounds crew on and off the field. To boot, it was a fireworks night, meaning GA was packed with tons of kids.
It wasn’t until my parents stopped by around the 7th inning that I realized what was going on. The first thing out of my dad’s mouth when he saw me was “So I see there’s a no-hitter going.” I’m pretty sure I said something like “What?” But I turned to look at the scoreboard and saw zeroes across the board. It just proved how crazy my night had been (and how unattentive the fans in my section were).
Apparently, Sanches did not realize what was going on until then too, when teammates would not sit near him or talk to him. So I was not the only person late to the party.
From that point on, I definitely watched the game. I had never been present at a no-hitter and I didn’t want to completely miss it.
Sanches had two outs in the 9th innings and walked a batter, his first of the game (which ended his perfect game). Fans throughout the ballpark were on their feet, cheering him on and I had chills.
When Sanches recorded that final out, his teammates mobbed him and the fans cheered. He stayed around afterwards to sign autographs.
I didn’t personally know Sanches at the time, but I became friends with him by the end of the season (and have gotten to see him over the years since). It was a great moment that many do not get to experience or be a part of. It was the top moment of an otherwise lackluster season and I’m sure he remembers the moment too.