After reading Sports Illustrated’s ranking of the 50 states based on sports, Wilmington resident Joe Nye felt a defense of his home state was in order.

After reading Sports Illustrated’s ranking of the 50 states based on sports, Wilmington resident Joe Nye felt a defense of his home state was in order.
“They ranked Delaware 50 out of 50, so I thought that deserved a response,” said Nye, author of “Delaware Sports Legends: Blue Hens, Hornets, High Schools and more.”
Nye, a Glasgow High School and University of Delaware graduate, said the book originally started as one dedicated to the various Delawareans who have played in the National Football League. However, he decided to add all levels of First State sports to fill out the pages and got plenty of help while researching topics.
“People would tell me that you need to have this person from Delaware State, this one from University of Delaware, so I got a lot of help that way,” he said.
The book, 154 pages in length, covers sports in all corners of the state of Delaware, including the Dover area, which boasts the only two high school teammates from Delaware to achieve the same feat in the major leagues – former Caesar Rodney pitchers David Williams and Ian Snell, who both pitched for the Pittsburgh Pirates during the 2004 and 2005 seasons. Dover also can claim an Olympic gold medalist, with Dover native Frank Shakespeare being a part of the United States Rowing Championship team in the 1952 games. Nye, who was a freelance sports writer in his earlier years, also said he graded on a curve for what defines a Delawarean, citing one special case as an example.
“Jake Wood played one year of baseball at Delaware State and then went on to play in the major leagues, but he’s not in the Delaware Sports Hall of fame because he didn’t play four years at Delaware State,” Nye said. “For this book, I consider him a Delawarean.”
That grading curve meant anyone who was born in Delaware, lived in Delaware and/or played high school and college sports in Delaware was eligible for inclusion in the book.
Nye, who said he’s been a Delaware sports geek since attending the first high school championship football game back in 1971, was surprised to find that Delaware State has produced almost as many NFL players (17) as UD (20).
“People would think that the numbers wouldn’t be as close because of UD getting more publicity,” he said.
Nye is thrilled to see the fruits of his labor become a reality. The book is currently available on, and on bookshelves at Browseabout Books in Rehoboth Beach and any Barnes and Noble and Borders in the state. He also will be doing book signings at Barnes & Noble as well as Borders in New Castle County very soon.
“It’s tremendous to see all the hard work and research come to fruition,” he says. “I was able to attend to the Delaware Sports Hall of Fame banquet and talk to the people I wrote about and they love that they haven’t been forgotten.”
Nye hopes that this book will open some eyes to the various stages of athletic skill and achievement that the second smallest state in the union has to offer.
“We have produce a great group of athletes to be such a small state and our paths have crossed with some of the giants of sport,” he said.