I have watched many a baseball game at Lawrence-Dumont Stadium on the banks of the Arkansas River in Wichita, Kansas. I grew up watching the Wichita Aeros, the Chicago Cubs AAA affiliate from 1970 to 1984. After graduating college in the summer of 1980 I worked at the Wichita Children’s Home and I took a group of boys to see Mark Fidrych pitch for the Evansville Triplets vs. the Areos. I cannot remember who won the game, but I do remember Fidrych signing autographs for every one of those boys when it was over though not a one of them had a clue who he was. What I would have given to be able to show those boys a few YouTube videos of the Bird and his eccentric antics on the mound in Tiger Stadium.
In the early 90’s I began taking my own sons to see the Wichita Wranglers when they were the AA affiliate for the San Diego Padres and then the Kansas City Royals. We got to witness up-close the talents of the Alomar brothers, Johnny Damon, and many more. I imagine that my sons were more thrilled to participate in making the world’s largest ice cream sundae and getting to lie on the infield turf to watch fireworks after a game – such are the joys of minor league baseball – but they have very fond memories and a continuing relationship with both minor major league baseball.
Wichita lost the Wranglers in 2007 and I left Kansas the following year, but Lawrence-Dumont will always have a special place in my baseball memory palace.
Here are a few cards from the 1991 Wranglers Roster:
Pedro Martinez – Imagine my shock when I opened this pack of cards! Alas, same famous name from same country, but a couple of years older than THAT Pedro Martinez in the Baseball Hall of Fame. While their major league careers overlapped for 6 seasons, I doubt that they ever appeared in the same game.