The wonderful 74-year-old Wichita tradition of the National Baseball Congress World Series began the other day. I got out last night to the 4th day of the event, watching the last half of the 5:00 game between the San Diego Waves and the Maxim Yankees. The Waves held onto their 5-2 lead for the last few innings and won with that score. The score reminded me of how much more like real baseball the games are since they replaced aluminum bats with wooden bats. With aluminum bats, the usual score was more like 11-10.
The next game was between Gunnison (Colorado) and Park City (Kansas). Each team scratched out a run during the first 5 innings, and then in the 6th Gunnison broke the tie, and during a Park City pitching change I went on home. I found out later that Gunnison held on to win 4-3, sending Park City to the loser's bracket.
The temperature when I got to the stadium was 99, but there was a slight breeze, and sitting behind third base, near the top of the grandstand so that the sun was blocked out, I was surprisingly comfortable. I noticed that there was a new structure in the Wichita skyline which is in view from the stadium, and I can only assume that it was the new arena which is being built just south of downtown.
Down below in the store I ran into some players from the Seattle Studs team, and I asked if the Studs were going to be selling T-shirts this year. They said they would be, but only during their games, and the game that nite wasn't until 1:00. They said if they won they'd play next on Thursday, and they sounded like they expected to win (which they did).
The guy in front of me in the grandstand had this interesting T-shirt on, which said "Bubba Gump Shrimp Co., Kola, HI". Based on that, and the apparent ages of himself and his son, I concocted this whole life scenario for him, which is that he joined the military at 18, did his 20 years and ended up in Wichita where he met a woman and had this son who was with him at the park.
The announcer mentioned that Lawrence-Dumont Stadium was the 7th-oldest professional ballpark in use in the US. I know Fenway Park and Wrigley Stadium are older in the majors, but don't know which are the other 4 minor league parks which are also older. Lawrence-Dumont has a notable history, starting with the first NBC tournament in 1935 when it welcomed Satchell Paige and his Bismarck team (which won that first tournament), and striking a strong blow against racism by welcoming Blacks a full 12 years before the color barrier in the majors was finally broken.
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