Former local standout athletes Derrick May, Lenny Richardson and Kristin Mills Caldwell headline the Delaware Baseball Hall of Fame Class of 2019.
May was a three-sport star at Newark in the mid-1980s. He led the 1984 baseball squad to the state championship while earning all-state and all-American honors and was named the Delaware Gatorade Player of the Year.
“My experience at Newark helped me [prepare for the pros] because it had a winning atmosphere and competitive environment with great sports teams and talent,” May said.
Although he also played football and basketball, baseball was May’s passion. He was a first-round (ninth overall) draft pick of the Chicago Cubs and went on to enjoy a 10-year career in the major leagues with the Cubs, Brewers, Astros, Phillies, Expos and Orioles. He was a career .271 hitter with 51 home runs and 310 RBIs.
After playing in Japan, May became a minor league hitting coach with the St. Louis Cardinals and in 2016 was promoted to assistant hitting coach for the major league team.
May is a member of the Delaware Sports Museum and Hall of Fame as well as the Delaware Afro-American Hall of Fame.
“I am honored and very grateful that I am being inducted,” said May, who owns Beast of the East Baseball.
Richardson helped lead Newark National Little League to the 1980 state title before going on to become a standout baseball and football player at Newark High School.
“I am very humbled by this honor,” Richardson said. “I respect all of the people who have been inducted, and it is really neat to have the connection with Bruce Carlyle and Derrick May as they share the induction date with me.”
Carlyle is a former UD assistant coach who is also being inducted.
Richardson was a member of Newark’s 1984 state championship football and baseball teams, earning second-team all-state honors as a shortstop his junior year and first-team honors as a senior.
“We learned to compete at Newark,” he recalled. “It wasn’t always easy. We won the baseball state championship my junior year, but the previous year we had a losing record. Just about everyone on that team played multiple sports and although we had some great talent, the team just had some tough athletes that weren’t exceptional at baseball, but came up huge at the end of the year to help us win.”
Richardson went on to have a stellar career at the University of Delaware. He was named the East Coast Conference Most Valuable Player his senior year and was selected to the first-team All-East team three consecutive years. Richardson played in 165 games and finished with a career .351 average, 112 RBIs, 170 runs scored and 49 stolen bases.
“I was a pretty good hitter coming out of high school, but Coach Carlyle and his hitting philosophy made me even better,” Richardson explained. “He made us be aggressive. He wanted us to hit, not take walks.”
Richardson’s first coaching stint was as an assistant at Newark High School and then, in 1992, he became the first baseball head coach at Polytech High School.
“I have many memories of great plays, great hits and great efforts by Polytech baseball players,” said Richardson, who is now the director of facilities in the Cape Henlopen School District. “I enjoy seeing those athletes now, being successful in their careers and coaching their own kids.”
Richardson credited Carlyle, former Newark football coach Butch Simpson and former UD baseball head coach Bob Hannah as all having influenced his coaching career. However, it was Richardson’s parents, Frank and Linda, who made the biggest impression on his life.
“My dad rarely ever missed a game and whenever I wanted to have a catch or hit, he was always willing, even after working long, hot days at the plant,” Richardson reminisced with a hint of emotion in his voice. “And my mom … while she couldn’t see many games because she worked a third shift, she’d get home at one in the morning and make sure my uniform was washed and ready to go the next day.”
Caldwell was an outstanding player locally, nationally and internationally, but perhaps her greatest contribution to the sport of baseball was breaking many gender barriers by playing youth and high school baseball when it was difficult for girls to break into male-dominated programs. By doing so, she made it easier for girls to follow in her path.
“I feel fortunate to have had the opportunity to play baseball since age 5,” Caldwell said. “My parents gave me the chance to pursue any activities I wanted to and never put any limitations on what I was capable of. I give a lot of credit to them for being open to allowing me to stick to baseball. From Little League to Newark Babe Ruth to Caravel, I was always fortunate as a player and a coach that coaches and teammates were always completely accepting of me on the team.”
After making several youth league all-star teams, Caldwell helped lead Caravel Academy to the 1998 state championship. After graduating from the University of Delaware, Caldwell earned a spot on the USA women’s baseball team, where she played with her sister, Bonnie, and was the winning pitcher in the championship game of the 2004 tournament.
Caldwell is a member of the Delaware Sports Museum and Hall of Fame, was part of the “Women in Baseball Exhibition” at the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, and in 2004 was honored at the Women’s Sports Foundation 25th Salute to Women in Sports.
“Sports have allowed me to travel the world, meet amazing people, and be myself,” said Caldwell, who now teaches and coaches basketball at Caravel Academy. “Sports have taught me how to work hard, to earn the things in life that I want, and to be a part of something bigger than myself. Now as a coach, it’s fulfilling to be able to teach the kids I coach about the game, but also the other life lessons that go along with sports.
Curtis Brock (Del-Tech) and Dave Yates (Mount Pleasant High School/UD) are also being inducted.
The ceremony takes place on June 10 at 5:30 p.m. at Frawley Stadium prior to the Blue Rocks-Lynchburg game.
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