I went to a baseball game this week.

Only in 2020 is it a blog-worthy announcement to say, “I went to a baseball game this week.” This past week I proudly wore one of the masks I’ve made, and attended the championship game of the long-running annual National Baseball Congress World Series tournament. I’ve written about the NBC World Series in prior years, here in 2016, and here in 2018. This month they managed to plan and carry out a 2020 pandemic version of the tournament, in a borrowed stadium.

The COVID-19 rules for attendees: Masks were required to be worn by every person in the stadium. Every other row of seats was roped off, so attendees sat at least a row apart. We were also instructed to sit several seats away from other fans.

The championship game was between the Cheney (KS) Diamond Dawgs and the Santa Barbara Foresters.

My only 7th inning stretch of 2020.

The Foresters led from the start and continued to build on their lead as the game progressed. A rain and lightning delay was looming.

The Diamond Dawgs signaled with a 3-run homer in the bottom of the 9th, that they weren’t going to be rushed out of the stadium. But then came the 3rd out, and congrats to the champions, the Santa Barbara Foresters.

The first gust from the storm hit as I left the seats. The first drops of rain fell as I was getting into my car.

More sports to come?

The last live sports event I’d attended before this was a Big XII basketball game on March 5. On the day of this baseball game, it was rumored that two of the Power-5 collegiate conferences were going to cancel football for the year. The Big 10 did in fact cancel 2020 football, and the Pac-12 postponed their football season to Spring 2021. At the time, I thought this NBC baseball game might be the last live sports event I’d be attending in 2020.

But maybe not. The Big XII has announced that it does not plan to cancel or postpone its 2020 football season. Teams want fans there, too. Wishful thinking on my part? We’ll see what surprises are out there for the final four months of 2020. Wear those masks and be distant and considerate of each other. It’s our only hope of having more chances to head to the stadiums to cheer our teams on this year.

They decided to tear down the baseball stadium

This was the last game ever for the Wichita Wingnuts professional baseball team.  After eleven years as a team, they have called it quits, because they are losing their stadium.  This was also the last game to ever be played in the historic Lawrence-Dumont baseball stadium.  The city plans to tear down the 84-year-old stadium and put up a new structure.

The view from the tailgating-picnic lawn outside:

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This towering light scaffold is one of the originals installed in the ballpark.

L-D light tower

The old scoreboard was really fun.  When the opposing team failed to score in an inning, a goose would travel across the board and drop a goose egg for that inning.

The stadium is also home to the National Baseball Congress World Series, which has been held annually for 84 years–the oldest baseball tournament in the country.  Many, many famous MLB players played in the NBC World Series in the early days of their careers.  I wrote about the tournament in 2016.  It’s not every day that Roger Clemens, Adam LaRoche, Jeremy Guthrie, and more ex-MLB stars form a team and show up to play in your tournament.  They brought their families and spent the week with us at the ballpark.  They did it again in 2017, and brought Chipper Jones, Roy Halladay, Heath Bell, Joe Nathan, and some more memorable players with them.  That’s over now too.

National Anthem

Coming back to 2018 and this last game ever.  There was a good crowd in attendance.  Rain threatened all day, but stayed away during the game.

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The first few innings progressed like any game.

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In the 7th inning, the crowd’s singing of ‘Take Me Out to the Ballgame’ was particularly spirited.  “And it’s root, root, root for the Wingnuts!”

The ‘Garbage Gremlin’ made his last pass through the stadium.

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Kids who have collected a bag of trash in the stadium get to walk in a procession behind the Garbage Gremlin near the end of the game.

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Too soon, it was the top of the 9th inning.  The ‘Nuts were ahead 4-1.  Their opponent, the Sioux City Explorers, had 2 outs, so this was likely the stadium’s last batter ever.

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The crowd stood.

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Then it was all over but the handshakes and hugs.

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In 2019, there will be no stopping at the ballpark to watch some baseball before heading home from the office.  There will be no more yelling, “Go ‘Nuts!”  The NBC World Series will have a temp home at the university.

After 2019, we don’t know for sure what the new stadium/venue will look like, but we have now been given an idea.  It may be designed to accommodate other uses too, such as soccer and outdoor concerts.

New Lawrence Dumont Stadium rendering 9-2018

It’s also been confirmed that a new baseball team will move in and take up residence in our new stadium.  Wichita will be the new home of the New Orleans Baby Cakes, the AAA affiliate of the Marlins.  Not too shabby.  Stay tuned….