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Despite COVID-19, NBC World Series launches

NBC World SeriesWith a smaller field and plenty of social distancing, the historic National Baseball Congress (NBC) World Series launched yesterday at Wichita State University’s Eck Stadium.

The last several years have seen plenty of upheavals for the venerable tourney, which began in 1935 when “Hap” Dumont launched the first NBC National Tournament at Lawrence-Dumont Stadium in an event built around Satchel Paige and his Bismarck, ND barnstorming team. (That’s part of a fascinating chapter in Paige’s life; you can read about it here.) With the demise of Lawrence-Dumont Stadium and the construction of a new ballpark on its site for the Wichita Wind Surge (Class AAA; Pacific Coast League), the National Baseball Congress had charted a new course that called for the tourney to be played both at the new Wichita ballpark and Eck Stadium.

Then the COVID-19 pandemic hit. The Wind Surge decided to pass on hosting tournament games this year, forcing play at Eck Stadum and Hobart-Detter Stadium in Hutchinson.

In the end, the tourney proceeded, opening with Coach Frank Leo’s Hays Larks taking on the Kansas City All-Stars. Only 13 teams are participating this year, but in many other respects it’s business as usual, per the Wichita Eagle:

[Tournament director Kevin Jenks] didn’t know what Monday night would look like, exactly, but as he started to see familiar faces around the stadium, it seemed to feel pretty normal.

“Everything looks a little bit different, but when it comes down to it, we’ve got great baseball being played,” Jenks said. “Guys are competing for a national championship, so that doesn’t change. I get to see a lot of these guys only once a year, so I want to give them a hug or a good handshake, but now we’re doing a dance on how to greet one another.

“But it is so refreshing to sit back and say, ‘OK, this is it. We’re playing.’ ”

RELATED STORIES: Future NBC World Series to be Split Between Ballparks; NBC World Series Worried it Will be Shut Out of Wichita Ballpark; NBC World Series Bringing Out the Stars

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