Lawrence-Dumont Stadium, Wichita, KANSAS
Number of states: 3
Lawrence-Dumont Stadium is no longer used for the affiliated minors as of the 2008 season.
States to go: 47
Number of games: 1
First and last game: April 10, 2004 (Arkansas Travelers 10, Wichita Wranglers 0)
(Click on any image to see a larger version.)
Spring Break 2004. I set out for my spring break, leaving chilly, rainy Seattle for warmer climes–Wichita, Tulsa, Arlington, and Houston. Why did I have to pick a week when Seattle had beautiful, record-setting temperatures and a mass of Northern air settled over Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas? The first Saturday night of the baseball season in Wichita was colder than the proverbial witch’s tit (and, I am sure, colder than a literal witch’s tit…not that I have any experience. With witches.) Thank goodness for the $23 K-Mart jacket I secured earlier that day. In any event, Lawrence-Dumont Stadium was an excellent Texas League ballpark that nobody in Wichita seems to have found.
For starters, Lawrence-Dumont Stadium has a rich sense of baseball history. Its pavilion makes a special point to commemorate Wichita baseball history, most notably the National Baseball Congress
But the walk around the stadium also teaches us about Wichita’s minor league past. Included in this was a list of all of the teams that have played minor league ball in Wichita. On that list, I was delighted to find the infamous Wichita Jobbers. Pete LaCock.
Perhaps most impressive was the story–I hope it’s true–that Joe Carter hit a home run during an NBC tournament that hit the Metropolitan Baptist Church on one bounce. The church is nearly 900 feet away. This picture probably doesn’t do it justice, but still, check out this view of the church from home plate. The church is the red brick building with the white steeple beyond the left field wall.
On the whole, this was an excellent night of baseball. The staff with the Wranglers have done a fine job of putting together solid entertainment. They ran wacky ads starring their young staff (a send-up of The Apprentice, for instance). There were frequent promotions, but not so frequent as to take away from the baseball. The ballpark has a fine location on the Arkansas river–there’s a view of downtown right past the outfield fence. And Double-A baseball is great entertainment in and of itself. Still, only 155,547 showed up to watch the Wranglers in Wichita in 2003…barely 2,000 per game, only about a quarter of the league leaders and behind even Midland, which is a far smaller city than Wichita. I can’t for the life of me figure out why. It’s not because they have a less-than-good ballpark…Lawrence-Dumont is a great place. It’s not because it’s a poorly-run night of baseball…it was excellent. It’s not because it’s inconveniently located…it’s right in the heart of town. There’s no excuse, Wichita. Get out to your wonderful ballpark. You’ll have at least as good a time as I did.
Okay, now that I’ve said that, let me cut the Wichita folk some slack…the weather certainly was the lion’s share of the reason that attendance was so abysmally
And I like Lawrence-Dumont Stadium, which more Kansans should get out to see, especially on a night where they can’t see their breath.
Regional feel: 9.5/10
The celebration of Kansas baseball in the museum-like pavilion is fantastic. Add to that a location on the Arkansas river, a view of downtown Wichita, and a few friendly Kansans, and there’s not a doubt as to where you are.
There’s a contagious love of baseball here. But ICK!!! The astroturf infield with the grass outfield? WHY???? Back when Wichita fed the Astros, it made sense. But now they feed Kansas City, who has a grass infield. It’s just an eyesore now. Lose it.
Didn’t get in the way…but I didn’t see much of the mascots.
Team mascot/name: 5/5
Didn’t see much of Wilbur–the best I can do for a picture is the distorted shot at left. I think the cold night kept him in. I did take a shot with the Garbage Goblin, however, on the right. Please note that a gust of wind has gone up my K-mart jacket…that’s not my belly under there, it’s mostly cold Wichita air. I never saw Wilbur and the Garbage Goblin together, which strongly leads me to suspect they’re the same guy. “Wranglers” is a completely appropriate name for Wichita, and the horse totally appropriate as a mascot…although, upon reflection, aren’t horses the natural adversaries of wranglers?
Quite nice, with a view of downtown and the river.
Pavilion area: 5/5
A wonderful walk through Wichita baseball history that starts at home plate and goes all the way back to center field. Lots of good stories. The best part of the ballpark.
No major issues here, but no major plusses.
Nice people, but far too few of them.
In spite of the weather, the sparse crowd, and the incredibly lousy game, I got a great feeling from this place
BASEBALL STUFF I’VE SEEN HERE:
A god-awful game in hellish cold. Arkansas pounds out 19 singles and a double. The worst part was that 5 of the runs were in the 9th inning, just as all of us were ready to head home. If I’d had a date with me who wanted to take off, I would have probably demurred…and that is saying something.
3 RBIs for Traveler Jason Aspito.
Tim Bittner pitched 6 innings of 4-hit ball for the win, with Cam Esslinger and Dan Mozingo closing out the 4-hit shutout.
The Arkansas Travelers’ road uniforms read “Little Rock.” Their jackets read “Angels.” The Arkansas Travelers are neither Arkansas nor Travelers. Discuss.