FOR THE PAST 83 YEARS, the National Baseball Congress (NBC) World Series has entertained and delighted baseball fans in Wichita and throughout Kansas and the Midwest with its unique brand of high-quality, competitive baseball.
It’s hard to believe it all started with clowns and firemen.
Back around 1930, Hap Dumont, a Wichita sporting goods salesman, conceived the idea of creating a National Baseball Congress State Tournament while watching a Sunday baseball game between circus clowns and local firemen played on an island field in the middle of the Arkansas River.
This summer, the NBC will host its 84th edition of the NBC World Series, July 27–Aug. 11 at Wichita’s Lawrence-Dumont Stadium, where the national semi-pro tournament has been held since 1935. Thirty teams from across the U.S. will descend on the city for the two-week event, aiming to duplicate the feat of the Kansas Stars, which won the championship last year.
Over the years, the NBC World Series has brought some of the greatest talent to ever play the game to Wichita. Perhaps the greatest played in the first national tournament in ’35. Dumont paid the impressive sum of $1,000 to bring in Satchel Paige, considered the greatest pitcher of that era. And Paige certainly earned his keep, striking out 60 batters in four victories – a record that stands to this day.
There are 62 players currently playing Major League Baseball who played in previous NBC World Series, including Kansas City Royals center fielder Alex Gordon, former league MVP Albert Pujols and star pitcher Tim Lincecum.
The NBC has been through ups and downs over eight decades, but endures largely because of a city that loves baseball and welcomes the tournament and players every summer.
“You can’t sell baseball,” says Kevin Jenks, general manager and tournament director of the NBC for the past four years. “It’s earned its success by being the great American pastime. The NBC has been played every year in the same city in the same ballpark for 83 years, which we’re very proud of.
“Wichita has taken ownership of the tournament. We have a great tradition here.”
84TH NATIONAL BASEBALL CONGRESS WORLD SERIES
Lawrence-Dumont Stadium | Wichita | July 27-Aug. 11
NATIONAL BIPLANE FLY-IN
Freeman Field, Junction City | June 2 | 7 a.m. – 7 p.m.
The perfect event for antique plane enthusiasts, the National Biplane Fly-in hosts pilots of the iconic aircraft from all over the country. For a $5 admission per carload, visitors can watch the biplanes land on Freeman Field’s grass runways.
PRAIRIE DAYS FESTIVAL
Independence | June 9 | 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
To celebrate one of Kansas’ key literary classics, the Little House on the Prairie Museum hosts its annual Prairie Days Festival and Celebration. Each year, visitors can expect pioneer games, crafts, a costume contest and festival food. In honor of the 15th annual celebration, Wendi Turnbaugh Lee, who played Baby Grace on the acclaimed television adaption of the beloved books, will speak about her life—from growing up as Baby Grace, to overcoming a brain tumor in 2015. Lee shared the role with her twin sister Brenda Turnbaugh.