WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — Thursday marks the start of the National Baseball Congress World Series at Eck Stadium.
“Having an event like this in one city for 89 years is really just incredible,” Tournament director Katie Woods said. “That’s not something that you see very often, and to have it be really rooted in Wichita. So to have Dumont start it here, and it’s always been kind of it revolved around Wichita. It’s baseball, and it’s great baseball, but it also has always been fun and funky and had like a little twist to it. So the pitch clock that Major League Baseball has now started in the NBC almost 60 years ago.”
The tournament brings in 16 summer collegiate teams from around the country.
“We have teams from all over the country,” Woods said. “We’ve got teams from Seattle, Santa Barbara, California, Oklahoma, Texas, Colorado, all come to Wichita to play 35 baseball games in 10 days, all at Wichita State University to become the national champion.”
The teams are made up of athletes ranging from JUCO to D-1.
“Liberal Bee Jays have come to NBC, I think 55 times, but they have players from all over the country who come, so they might have players from 20 different schools who all come and play in Liberal for the summer, and then participate in the NBC World Series,” Woods said.
The NBC World Series began in Wichita in 1935 by Raymond “Hap” Dumont. He paid Satchel Paige $1,000 to bring his team to the tournament.
“That was the whole reason they built Lawrence-Dumont Stadium downtown Wichita was for the NBC World Series in 1935,” Woods said. “He paid him $1,000 to bring his barnstorming team here, which is something like $20,000 in today’s money, and all four days that he pitched, they sold out all four days that he pitched, he won, and it really kind of was a catalyst for getting more people to see them play.”
The NBC allowed for integrated teams, while the majors and minors did not.
“It was really big to have a player of color be able to play in NBC,” Woods said.
It has served as a stepping stone to over 800 players, taking them to the majors.
“A lot of these guys go on like Mark McGwire, Barry Bonds, Ozzie Smith, Albert Pujols all played an NBC World Series,” Woods said.
The games run from Aug. 3-12. Game times are 12 p.m., 3 p.m., 6 p.m., and 8:30 p.m. Tickets are $10. For tickets, click here.
The 6 p.m. games are promotional games with themes such as Women in Sports Night and Educators Night. Maybelle Blair will be there on August 10.
The tournament typically brings in just over $2 million to Wichita.
“There are about 30 people per team when you have players and the coaches, so all those people need to stay the night for 10 days, they need to eat in our restaurants, they need to shop in our stores, and we love having them,” Jamelle Holopirek, public relations for Visit Wichita, said.