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Lawrence-Dumont Stadium: The end is near

Contact: Jared Shlensky
[email protected]

WICHITA, Kan. — Geoffrey Chaucer, known as the Father of English Literature, is credited with the original use of the idiom, “All good things must come to end.” Yes, it first appeared in Chaucer’s poem, Troilus and Criseyde, published over seven centuries ago. However, the famous quote is still relevant in 2018…particularly to the American Association.

The Wichita Wingnuts announced on May 3rd that 2018 would mark the final year of existence for historic Lawrence-Dumont Stadium. It brings a close to 84 years of baseball to the stadium, including the home of the National Baseball Congress (NBC) World Series since its construction in 1934.

“Lawrence-Dumont Stadium has been such an integral part of not only the history of Wichita baseball, but the entire fabric of this community,” Wingnuts Owner and President Nate Robertson said in a Wingnuts press release back on May 3rd. “The Wingnuts organization feels incredibly fortunate to have called Lawrence-Dumont home for the past decade, and for having the chance to continue adding to the rich history and tradition of baseball here in the Air Capital.”

But listing the numbers and facts about the historic stadium doesn’t really do it justice. For baseball connoisseurs, one really can’t receive a grasp of how special this place is without ever being here. Even if you didn’t grow up watching or playing baseball, you could be standing outside Lawrence-Dumont Stadium and instantly know the iconic stadium holds such a strong symbolic value in the sport.

Just look at the names and photos on the pillars outside of the historic stadium — Mark Grace, Roger Clemens, Don Sutton, Jeff Montgomery, Kirk Gibson, etc. All had standout careers in Major League Baseball and all played in the NBC.

Now the NBC and Wichita Wingnuts will have to find a new home in 2019. Marking an end to some great memories and experiences inside Lawrence-Dumont Stadium. The Gary SouthShore RailCats franchise has experienced some of the myriad memories at Lawrence-Dumont Stadium. Most notably, winning their most recent championship and only American Association Title in 2013 at the historic stadium.

RailCats pitching coach Alain Quijano is one of a few to experience Lawrence-Dumont Stadium through various facets of professional baseball. Quijano played in the NBC, pitched at the historic stadium and won a title on the ’13 RailCats team during his American Association career and has coached at Lawrence-Dumont since joining the RailCats coaching staff back in 2014.

“My first experience was back in 2001 when I threw in the NBC World Series when it was the old Lawrence-Dumont,” said Quijano. “We played in the feature game at 7 o’clock and they had the big screen going and there was like 15,000 people here that night. As far as playing and coaching here over the last nine years, it’s been a fun experience and its got a lot of history and a lot of really good memories.”

Tuesday’s series finale vs. the Gary SouthShore RailCats featured a mini replica of historic Lawrence-Dumont Stadium to the first 1,000 fans through the gates, making the end feel so much more real. Especially for Wichita, Kan., native and Wingnuts Broadcaster Denning Gerig.

“This is the stadium that made me into a baseball fan,” said Gerig. “As someone who’s been a lifelong Wichitan, I’ve been coming to games here my entire life. Whether it was the NBC, the Wichita Wranglers and now the Wichita Wingnuts, I was a fan of the Wingnuts before I started working for them. A lot of my baseball memories are tied to this place so when the news was official (closing of Lawrence-Dumont Stadium) and we had to make that announcement, sadness more than anything else was the prevailing thought.”

Steve Schuster, current Radio Broadcaster for the Winnipeg Goldeyes and former Wingnuts Broadcaster (2008-13), knows how much employees, coaches, fans and players have invested into Lawrence-Dumont Stadium. “Lawrence-Dumont is a treasure, and it’s sad to see it coming to an end,” said Schuster. “Many individuals have invested large chunks of their lives working for the local teams and helping to maintain the ballpark’s charm. I’m very honored and proud to have had the chance to work both the Wingnuts and at Lawrence-Dumont Stadium.”

The countdown to the end is almost complete. After Tuesday’s game vs. Gary, Lawrence-Dumont Stadium is only guaranteed three more games. However, there could be more, just not a definitive number. Wichita currently sits in third place in the American South Division but only trail the Kansas City T-Bones for the second and final playoff spot in the division by 1.5 games. If Wichita is unable to qualify for the postseason, September 3rd will mark the end of Lawrence-Dumont Stadium. Regardless of how many games remain, one thing is clear — the end is near.

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