7 inducted into state baseball Hall of Fame

Nick Halliday Headlines, Sports

On Wednesday, June 14th, 2023 at Frawley Stadium the Delaware High School Baseball Hall of Fame inducted 7 new inductees. They honored Matt Brainard, Bill Brakeley, Rob Bryson, Brian Lesher, Johnny Morris, Mark Romanczuk, and Mark Rubini in front of a great crowd at Frawley. 

The Delaware Baseball Coaches Association began work on forming a Hall of Fame in November of 1992. With the Induction of the Class of 2023, we will now have 163 members (156 individual members along with 7 teams) from all segments of the baseball community in Delaware. A plaque honoring the inductees can be seen on the concourse on the first base side of the press box at Frawley Stadium.

See below for the profiles for the class of 2023 inductees.


Matt Brainard receiving his Hall of Fame plaque with his daughter, photo courtesy of Matt Brainard

As a versatile all-league selection at William Penn High School, an All-American standout at Wilmington University, and as a highly-successful coach at both his alma mater and West Chester (Pa.) Matt Brainard was the epitome of a local boy success story. 


At William Penn, Brainard was an All-Blue Hen Conference selection who led the Colonials to a berth in the 1989 state title game and set a school record for stolen bases in the process for Hall of Fame head coach Mel Gardner. He also was an All-State football player and medaled twice at the state wrestling tournament. During the summers, he led his Stahl Post #30 American Legion team to two state titles and earned the 1989 Don Kimsey Award as the state legion Player of the Year. 


He didn’t have to go far to continue his stellar baseball career. While at Wilmington University in 1990-93, he was a four-year starter, a team captain, and led his teams to the 1992 NAIA World Series, three regional titles, and three conference championships for Hall of Fame head coach Jim Sherman. He earned all-conference honors three times and was a three-time NAIA All-American, earning second team honors in 1993. 


Brainard was then drafted in the 25th round by the Philadelphia Phillies and started for the 1993 Batavia Phillies, later earning the Minor League Catcher of the Camp award in 1994 spring training. 


His coaching career was just as impressive. He was named head coach of his alma mater, Wilmington University at the tender age of 23 and led the Wildcats for 10 seasons from 1995-2004. He led the Wildcats to 350 victories, seven conference or section titles, three regional championships, and a 1995 Region 8 title that resulted in a berth in the NAIA World Series. He was named conference Coach of the Year seven times, regional Coach of the Year three times, and was a finalist for NAIA Coach of the Year twice. 


He then moved on to the head coaching position at West Chester (Pa.) University for two seasons in 2005-06 and led the NCAA II Golden Rams to two Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference East titles. The 2006 season was a special one as WCU captured the PSAC overall title and the NCAA East Region championship, and earned a berth in the NCAA II World Series, a first for the school. He was named a finalist for NCAA National Coach of the Year in 2006. 


He left WCU due to personal family reasons in 2006 but returned to his Alma Mater William Penn as Assistant Coach in 2008 for one season.  Following several years at William Penn he then moved on to Conrad School of Science where he has coached Golf and is currently Head Wrestling Coach and a School Counselor.  He resides in Wilmington with his wife Michele and daughter Abigail.



A native of Connecticut, Bill Brakeley was an outstanding fire-balling left-handed pitcher, first as an All-State pick at St. Andrew’s High School, then at the University of Delaware, and later for three seasons in minor league baseball. 


While staring at St. Andrew’s for Hall of Fame head coach Bob Colburn, Brakeley was a three-time All-State pitcher, earning honorable mention honors as a sophomore and first team laurels as a junior and senior in 1985 and 1986. 


He set numerous school records at St. Andrew’s, most notably for career wins (20), career strikeouts (287), consecutive strikeouts (first 10 batters in a game vs. Tatnall), and strikeouts in a game (18, twice). In one of those 18 strikeout games, he lost 1-0 on a passed ball. 


He played for the first Delaware Carpenter Cup team that competed in Philadelphia in 1986, starting and winning two games, including the championship game. Due to tournament rules, he could only pitch a maximum of nine innings, but struck out 14 batters and allowed just one earned run. Among the players he retired during the tournament was Baseball Hall of Famer Mike Piazza. 


Brakeley moved on to the University of Delaware where he was a standout for another Hall of Fame coach in Bob Hannah. After sitting out his freshman season as a redshirt in 1987, Brakeley enjoyed two solid seasons on the mound, leading the Hens to a 35-12 record in 1988 and an East Coast Conference regular season title in 1989. 


He posted a 4.89 earned run average with 58 strikeouts in 57 innings as a sophomore in 1988 and made big improvements as a junior in 1989 when he posted a 3.09 ERA with 91 strikeouts in 64 innings while earning first team All-ECC honors. His mark of 12.8 strikeouts per nine innings remains a Blue Hens record. He was drafted by the Milwaukee Brewers in the fourth round of the MLB Draft in 1989. 


Brakeley then moved on to professional ball with the Brewers and played three seasons in the organization. He went 2-1 with a 4.81 ERA and 39 strikeouts in 33.2 innings at Helena (Mont.) in 1989, 0-0 with a 4.91 ERA with 23 strikeouts in 18.2 innings at Helena in 1990, and 10-6 with a 3.78 ERA with 116 strikeouts in 123.2 innings at A Beloit in 1991. 


He now resides in Danbury Connecticut has 2 children Paige(20) and Reid(22) and works at New Canaan School as a Teaching Assistant,  Basketball  and  Baseball Coach.



Rob Bryson receiving his Hall of Fame plaque with his kids, photo courtesy of Rob Bryson

Another William Penn High School product, Rob Bryson was a standout pitcher for the Colonials who went on to college success in Florida, and later played five minor league seasons in the Milwaukee Brewers organization. 


Playing for Gardner at William Penn, Bryson was a four-year varsity standout who earned high school All-American honors as a senior in 2006, was a two-time All-State selection, twice pitched in the Carpenter Cup, and competed in the Blue-Gold All-Star Game. 


As a four-year letter-winner at William Penn, Bryson played in 183 games and batted .322 with 55 runs batted in as a shortstop and went 22-8 with a 1.27 earned run average with 269 strikeouts in 198 innings as a pitcher. He earned All-State honors twice and All-Blue Hen Conference recognition five times. 


He earned second team Blue Hen Conference Flight A honors as a pitcher in 2004 when he went 6-3 with a 1.29 ERA and 67 strikeouts in 65 innings. As a junior in 2005, he batted .333 and went 7-2 with a 1.47 ERA and 79 strikeouts in 57 innings to earn first team All-State honors as a pitcher. 


During his senior season in 2006, he earned Collegiate Baseball/Louisville Slugger first team All-American honors while also garnering first team All-District 2 and All-State laurels. He batted .390 with 22 RBI as a shortstop and went 9-2 with a miniscule 1.01 ERA with 117 strikeouts in 69 innings on the mound. Following his senior year, he was selected in the 31st round of the MLB Draft by the Milwaukee Brewers. 


Bryson attended Seminole State Community College in Sanford, Fla. and was a  standout in 2007 before heading to professional ball playing 2 years in the Brewers farm system followed by 5 seasons with the Cleveland Indians and 2 in Independent ball. He moved as high as the AAA level with the  Indians in 2013. During his seven years in the minor leagues, he appeared in 167 games, posted an 18-13 record with 10 saves, struck out 334 batters in 268 innings, and recorded an ERA of 3.79. 


Rob currently resides in Deer Island Florida with his wife Danielle and their two children Brody(4) and Harvey Lynn(5). He is attending school working on a degree in Psychology and coaching baseball.


One of the few Delawareans to ascend to the highest level of professional baseball, Brian Lesher enjoyed a two-sport All-State career at Newark High School, an all-conference showing at the University of Delaware, and appeared in 108 games in the Major Leagues. 


A native of Newark, Lesher was a standout at Newark High School where he was first team All-Blue Hen Conference and first team All-State in baseball for the Yellowjackets and also was a standout basketball player.  


He then made the move crosstown and became a talented slugging outfielder/first baseman at Delaware under Hall of Fame head coach Bob Hannah in 1990-92, leading the Blue Hens to a combined record of 109-32, including two regular season conference titles in 1990 and 1992, one North Atlantic Conference Tournament title in 1992, and an NCAA Tournament appearance in 1992.


He was a two-time first team all-conference performer for the Blue Hens. He batted a team-best .380 as a freshman in 1990 and followed that up by batting .380 with 11 home runs and 43 RBI as a sophomore in 1991 and batting .376 with 7 home runs and 59 RBI as a junior to highlight Delaware’s NCAA Tournament run in 1992.


After being selected in the 25th round of the 1992 Major League Draft by Oakland, he played five Major League seasons with Oakland (1996-98), Seattle (2000), and Toronto (2002) and appeared in 108 career games. He batted .224 with 9 home runs and 38 RBI for his major league career. 


He also played 12 minor league seasons and batted .283 with 144 home runs and 666 RBI in 1,131 games. He hit .323 with 21 home runs, 14 stolen bases, and 78 RBI at the AAA level for Oakland in 1997 and batted .288 with 25 homers and 92 RBI at the AAA level for Seattle in 2000.  


Both of his sons, Brett(20) and Zach(24), played baseball at the University of Delaware. Brian also served as head coach at Newark Charter School for 5 years(58-35 record) and coached both of his sons there.


A three-sport standout at Lewes High School in the 1950’s, Johnny Morris pitched for eight seasons in the Major Leagues and was inducted into the Delaware Sports Hall of Fame in 1987. 


A 1960 graduate of Lewes High School, the left-handed Morris starred in football and basketball, but baseball was certainly his forte. He pitched in 34 games over three seasons in 1958-60 and recorded 20 wins and 351 strikeouts and hurled three no-hitters. As a senior, he allowed just three runs in 41 innings, struck out 109 batters, and also hit .588 with six home runs. 


He was signed by the Philadelphia Phillies out of high school in 1960 and began an impressive professional career. He played 12 seasons in the minor leagues where he pitched in 310 games with 98 starts and 10 shutouts and compiled a record of 57-47. He posted an ERA of 3.38 and struck out 732 

batters in 986 innings. In 1961, his first year as a pro, Morris led the New York-Penn League with an ERA of 2.02 while winning 10 games, five of them shutouts.


Morris worked his way up to the Major Leagues and made his debut on July 19, 1966 with the Phillies. Over eight seasons with the Phillies, Baltimore Orioles, Seattle Pilots, Milwaukee Brewers, and San Francisco Giants, he pitched in 132 games with 10 starts and two complete games. He went 11-7 on the mound to go with a 3.95 ERA and 137 strikeouts in 232 innings. 


Used mostly in relief, he faced Hall of Famer Mickey Mantle in his first start and struck him out. During two consecutive starts in May of 1970 with Milwaukee, Morris beat the New York Yankees 3-1 on a three-hitter, and then beat Jim Catfish Hunter and the Oakland Athletics 6-3. After the 1971 season, Morris was traded to the San Francisco Giants, where he appeared in 31 games over 3 seasons. His professional career encompassed 15 years (1960-74).


Johnny currently resides in Scottsdale Arizona with his wife Judith.



Mark Romanczuk stanford baseball and Saint Mark’s, photo courtesy of Stanford Athletics

One of the most accomplished pitchers in the history of Delaware baseball, Mark Romanczuk earned All-State honors at St. Mark’s High School, All-American honors at Stanford University, was a top five round draft pick twice, and played four seasons in the minor and independent leagues. 


Romanczuk dominated on the mound at St. Mark’s High School and was a fifth-round pick in the 2002 MLB Draft by Tampa Bay. His list of honors was impressive as he was a two-time All-American, a two-time Delaware Gatorade High School Player of the Year, a three-time All-State selection, and a three-time All-Catholic League pick. 


He established numerous school records for the Spartans, including single-game strikeouts (twice struck out 18 batters), single-season strikeouts (146), career strikeouts (315), single-season ERA (0.56), career ERA (0.77), single-season complete games (10), and career complete games (24). He also pitched a perfect game with 17 strikeouts vs. Dover in 2002 and hurled four no-hitters. 


He went 6-2 with five complete games and a no-hitter as a sophomore in 2000 and posted a 7-1 record with a 0.56 ERA and 89 strikeouts in 50 innings and batted .405 with 17 RBI as a junior in 2001. As a senior in 2002, he went 10-0 with a 0.66 ERA, three no-hitters, and 146 strikeouts in 66 innings.  He also was an All-Catholic League guard in basketball and played for two state titles teams in soccer. 


Romanczuk then moved on to the college level and was just as impressive for national power Stanford University. During his stellar three-year career, he earned All-American honors twice, All-Pac 10 honors twice, and led the Cardinal to three straight NCAA Tournament appearances. 


As a freshman, he went 12-2 with a 4.01 ERA and struck out 80 batters in 112 innings to earn Collegiate Baseball Freshman of the Year and All-Pac 10 honors. Stanford went 51-18 and advanced to the NCAA College World Series before falling in the championship game. 


As a sophomore in 2004, he earned third team All-American and first team All-Pac 10 honors as he posted an 11-3 record, a 4.31 ERA, and struck out 94 batters in 109 innings in leading Stanford to a 46-14 record and an NCAA Tournament berth. 


He finished off his collegiate career in 2005 when he once again led the Cardinal to the NCAA Tournament as he went 5-6 with a 4.24 ERA and 83 strikeouts in 108 innings. He was selected in the fourth round of the MLB Draft by Arizona. 


Romanczuk played four professional seasons with his best year coming in 2007 when he went 4-3 with a 3.71 ERA at South Bend (A level). He also played two seasons in the independent league. In addition, he was a two-time Team USA member and led the squad to a silver medal at the 2003 Pan American Games and to the gold medal at the 2004 FISU World University Games. He was inducted into the Delaware Sports Hall of Fame in 2016. 


Mark currently lives in Rumson, New Jersey with his wife Jennifer and their 5 children Cecilia(1), Grady(2), Henry(5), Kennedy(8), and Madison(10).  He is employed by Goldman Sachs as a Managing Director in New York City.



Another inductee with strong ties to William Penn High School and the University of Delaware, Mark Rubini was a speedy, slugging outfielder during his stellar career on the diamond. 


Playing for Hall of Fame head coach Mel Gardner at William Penn High School for two seasons, Rubini earned All-State and All-Blue Hen Conference honors. He batted .447 as a junior in 1982 when he knocked in 10 runs and stole eight bases. As a senior in 1983, he hit at a .455 clip to go with 15 RBI and nine stolen bases. His career batting average was an incredible .451. 


Rubini then moved on to the University of Delaware where he continued his remarkable hitting prowess under Hall of Fame head coach Bob Hannah. 


During his four-year career in 1984-87, Rubini helped the Blue Hens post an overall record of 113-57-2 (.662) and a mark of 40-14 (.741). During that span, Delaware captured East Coast Conference regular seasons titles in 1985 and 1987 and was the ECC Tournament runner-up in 1985. 


Rubini, who served as the Blue Hens’ captain in 1987, earned All-East Region honors in 1985 as a sophomore and was a rare three-time All-ECC selection.


He batted a team-leading .423 as a sophomore in 1985 when he also led the team with 13 home runs and 63 runs scored, stole 30 bases in 33 attempts, and collected 48 RBI. He recorded another remarkable performance as a junior in 1986 when he once again led the team with a .421 batting average and stole 31 bases in 37 tries. As a senior, he batted .350 and led the team with 13 home runs. 


He set several school records for the Blue Hens, including standards for hits in a game (6 vs. Saint Joseph’s, 1985); stolen bases in a game (5 vs. Georgetown, 1986); stolen bases in a career (85); and stolen bases in a season (31 in 1986). He knocked in eight runs in a game vs.  Hofstra in 1987, the second highest single game total in school history. 


Upon graduation, Rubini ranked No. 1 all-time at UD in stolen bases (88), No. 6 in home runs (35), No. 8 in walks (108), No. 10 in runs scored (196), No. 15 in batting average (.370), and No. 33 in hits (212). 


He was selected in the 35th round of the 1986 MLB Draft by Milwaukee but did not sign and returned to UD for his final season. He currently resides in Elkton Maryland with his two sons, Jacob(22) and Nicholas(23) and is employed by Bank of America as a Senior Vice President of Underwriting.


For more information on the Delaware Baseball Coaches Association and the Hall of Fame go to sites.google.com/view/debca/home


We are seeking photos of Bill Brakeley, Brian Lesher, Johnny Morris, Mark Romanczuk, and Mark Rubini if anyone has one to share please email us at [email protected]



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