Black History Month: Highlighting Some of the Best Black Players to Play for the BlueClaws
JERSEY SHORE, NJ - 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. While some of these standout performers went on to long and illustrious Major League careers,
JERSEY SHORE, NJ - 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. While some of these standout performers went on to long and illustrious Major League careers, others simply had great Minor League careers or, in some cases, just one incredible season that went down as “a year for the ages.” Here is a look at some of the best Black baseball players ever to suit up for the BlueClaws.
Ryan Howard played for the BlueClaws in 2002 after being drafted by the Phillies the year prior from Southeast Missouri State. With the BlueClaws, Howard hit 19 home runs in 2002 and came back for rehab assignments in 2007, 2010, and 2012. In 2010, the BlueClaws retired his number 29. Howard and Cole Hames (#19) are the only BlueClaws to have their numbers retired by the team.
After leaving the BlueClaws, Howard won the 2005 National League Rookie of the Year and 2006 National League MVP. He helped the Phillies win the World Series in 2008.
The last BlueClaw to ever wear number 29. Happy Birthday @ryanhoward! pic.twitter.com/DeLOQK8Wtr— Jersey Shore BlueClaws (@BlueClaws) November 19, 2021
Michael Bourn played for the BlueClaws in 2004. Drafted by the Phillies out of the University of Houston, he played for the BlueClaws in 2004, stealing 57 bases while hitting .317. He hit .266 over an 11 year Major League career with the Phillies, Astros, Indians, Braves, Diamondbacks, and Orioles and stole 341 big league bases. Bourn led the National League in stolen bases in 2009 (61), 2010 (52), and 2011 (61) while twice making the All-Star Game.
As a landlord, he waived rents for his tenants during the early COVID-shutdown period in 2020. You can read more about that here.
Quintin Berry was drafted by the Phillies in 2006 out of San Diego State. He spent 2007 with the BlueClaws, stealing 55 bases and hitting .312. Eventually, he made his big league debut with the Tigers in 2012 and played for four different major league teams, winning a World Series title with the Red Sox in 2013.
He is currently the first base coach for the Brewers.
RELATED - We talked about the history of Negro League Baseball in New Jersey with Dr. Larry Hogan on Hook Line & Splitter, a Jersey Shore BlueClaws podcast.
Anthony Gose broke Berry's team stolen base record when he swiped 76 bases in 96 attempts with the BlueClaws in 2009. Playing for manager Dusty Wathan, Gose was the everyday leadoff hitter and centerfielder and helped the BlueClaws win the franchise's second championship that season. Gose also homered leading off the bottom of the first inning in Game One of the SAL Championship Series, a series the BlueClaws won 3-1 over the Greenville Drive. Gose went back to pitching in an attempt to make it back to MLB, and after playing for the US Olympic team last summer, returned to the big leagues with the Cleveland Guardians in September.
Jiwan James played for the BlueClaws in 2010, hitting .270 with 33 stolen bases and played a spectacular centerfield. He helped the BlueClaws win the 2010 South Atlantic League title, their third in team history and second straight. After reaching Double-A with the Phillies, James played one year in the Tigers system and is now a youth baseball coach in his home state of Florida. We caught up with Jiwan last year and you can watch the interview below.
JP Crawford is still the only high school draftee to play for the BlueClaws in the year he was drafted. Taken in the first round of the 2013 draft, he made his BlueClaws debut that August. Crawford's home debut came on August 20, 2013, the day Roy Halladay made a rehab appearance for the BlueClaws. Crawford came back to the BlueClaws for the first half of the 2014 season where he hit .295 with 14 stolen bases. After being named to the SAL All-Star Game, he was promoted at the all-star break that season. He is currently the shortstop for the Seattle Mariners.
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