Former Blue Hen Standout Joe Lank Inducted into Delaware Sports Museum and Hall of Fame
June 2, 2011
Photos Courtesy of Joe Lank
NEWARK, Del. -- Three men with strong ties to the University of Delaware and Blue Hen athletics were recently inducted into the Delaware Sports Museum and Hall of Fame.
Former Blue Hen football and baseball standout Joe Lank (at right), former baseball team member Matt Minker , and UD graduate and marathoner Doug White were among those inducted in a ceremony May 18 at the Chase Center. Minker was inducted posthumously.
The three were joined by Sherman Dillard (basketball), Maryde Mackie Hand (swimming), Dwayne Henry (baseball), Karen Kohn (basketball and field hockey), William Moyer (swimming), Sheldon Thomas (wrestling), and Larry Wheeler (baseball coach) in the 10-member Class of 2011.
Lank was an outstanding athlete at Milford High School and the University of Delaware in the late 1940’s and early 1950’s. A three-year football letterman at Delaware, he played offensive end and defensive back as the Blue Hens’ lone 60-minute player his senior year.
He was the team’s second highest scorer, an All-East defensive back nominee, and a recipient of the Taylor Trophy, becoming the first native Delawarean to win the football team’s individual player award. A three-year starting shortstop in baseball, Lank led the team in home runs and runs batted in in 1952 while also batting .311 and stealing 14 bases. He was also a letterman in track competing in discus and javelin. He was selected as the University’s Outstanding Senior Male Athlete of the Year in 1951-52.
At Milford High School, Lank was the school’s first athlete to letter in four sports. He was a standout for Milford’s 1946 state championship team in football and was one of the state’s leading scorers as a captain in 1947. He also starred in basketball and won the discus and javelin at the 1948 state meet for outdoor track and field. Following a 28-year Army career, Lank commanded the Delaware National Guard, retiring as a Major General. He now lives in Lewes, Del.
Minker, who passed away in 2007, played a major role in bringing professional baseball back to Wilmington after a 35-year hiatus and building Frawley Stadium, home of the Class A Blue Rocks, sparked the renaissance of Wilmington’s waterfront. Minker’s lifelong passion was baseball. He played baseball at Conrad High, the University of Delaware and in Wilmington’s semi-pro leagues. He played freshman and junior varsity baseball for the Blue Hens.
He later founded Minker Construction Co. and in the early 1990’s became a part owner of the Blue Rocks franchise. His company completed the team’s new stadium in time for the Blue Rocks’ April, 1993 home opener. Wilmington’s re-entry into professional baseball was an immediate and long-term success under Minker’s leadership. As an affiliate of the Kansas City Royals from 1993 through 2004, Wilmington had the best winning percentage among all full-season minor league clubs. Minker eventually became the team’s majority owner, and was named to the national Minor League Baseball Board of Directors. He also owned a share of the Class AAA Omaha Royals club.
Minker was a strong supporter of the Canal and other Little Leagues, and opened Frawley Stadium to Delaware high school baseball. For those efforts, he was inducted into the Delaware High School Coaches Hall of Fame in 2006. Minker was instrumental in obtaining the present-day site of the Delaware Sports Museum and Hall of Fame at Frawley Stadium.
A 1971 graduate of the University of Delaware, White is the state’s long-distance running ace. Although he never competed in athletics at Delaware due to work commitments, he has achieved a milestone matched by only five other athletes in the world, qualifying for and completing 37 Boston Marathons – a race considered one of the most grueling sporting events on the planet.
The Dickinson High graduate has completed more than 80 marathons and was the top Delaware finisher in the Boston Marathon seven times and headed the state’s Master’s finishers four times. Of the 49 marathons run at a sub-6-minute pace by Delaware residents, White accounts for 15 of them – more than any other state resident by a huge margin. Overall, he has run some 85,000 miles in competition – equivalent to more than three times around the world. He has also been inducted into the Pike Creek Valley Running Club Hall of Fame.Back To Football Home Football Story Archive