View Full Version : Wichita,what happened?
10-11-2010, 04:19 PM
How did Wichita go from a KC AA(level) team,that Kit Pellow played for in '97(I'll get back to that)to a indy team in the AA( a league not to be confused with the old AA) called the Wingnuts.When I think of wingnut I think of those hats that fans pay money for to wear on their head at Joe Louis Arena when watching the Red Wings.Getting back to Wichita,you had the AA(Wichita),AAA(Omaha), and the parent club(Royals)all with-in a 3 to 5 hour drive.And Wichita I think is the largest city in Kansas.How could they lose a AA team.Getting back to Kit Pellow.His career is interesting.Ifirst saw him play in '97 in Lansing.I was surprised to find out that was still playing in the minors this past year( with Shaumburg).He has only played about 100 games in the majors.Feel free to give input or correct me on my opinions.
10-11-2010, 11:36 PM
They got that way because the Wranglers were near the bottom of the league in attendance and Springboro, Ark., gave the KC Royals and the Rich family a boatload of $$$ to get the team to move. The city of Wichita didn't want to give those two entities any more $$$ on top of the $$$ they already spent on the stadium (including tearing down a historic outfield fence, which left-handed hitters loved and right handers feared) so it would more closely match Kauffman Stadium.
So the city said bye, bye, bought the National Baseball Congress (a summer college program with a 32-team post-season tournament) from the Rich family (which was making as much money, if not more, than the Wranglers) and gave it to the Wingnuts, which is locally owned with the exception of Horn Chen in the team's first two years, to operate it.
The problem with minor league baseball around here is you're competing with Wichita State the first two months, and Shocker baseball around here is king.
This year, the city is putting in a new artificial turf that will cover both the infield and outfield (only the pitching mound will be dirt) because between the Wingnuts, the NBC, a handful of high school and small college games and the Region VI junior college tourney, a lot of baseball is played on that field.
The drive from Springboro is only an hour or two more to KC than Wichita (a straight shot up US 71).
I do remember Kit Pellow. He was a key player for some of the better Wingnut teams. He was one of a line of great players to come through here, but this is a funny baseball market.
The Wranglers ruled from June to July, then the NBC would come through (sending the team on the road for about 10 to 15 days) and the fans would be burned out for the last couple of weeks of the season. If the team made the playoffs, fans stayed away because high school sports started.
The Wingnuts attendance has been steady and pretty similar to what the Wingnuts drew (they start a little later than the Wranglers did, which helps). Monday and Wednesday home games are dead attendance wise. Weekends are pretty good if nothing else is going on in town. NBC attendance was down this year because of the weather (100° plus for almost the entire tourney. It remained hot and humid for the late-night games). The post-NBC burnout lasted about a week and was made worse with the weather. The last week actually picked up attendance wise because the team was in a tight playoff race.
10-12-2010, 02:19 AM
On the heels of that, I have a question or two.
Do you think there's a rise in the profile and popularity of college baseball? Might that be coming at the expense of the minors?
What I know out here... Oregon State University won two College World Series, the University of Oregon responded by reinstating baseball, and the newspaper in Portland gives them better coverage than any minor league sports as a result.
10-12-2010, 10:59 PM
I think it's a local thing. When I lived in Columbus, OH, a lifetime ago, Ohio State played baseball games on an unlighted field next to the "College of Agriculture Poultry Research Center" (ie the chicken farm). The scoreboard might or might not work on a given day. If the wind blew just right, the place stunk. Games were in the mid afternoon and only a handful of students showed up. And this was a team with a CWS title in my lifetime. The Clippers were the big draw in spring and summer. I know OSU built a nice new stadium in a better location and crowds are better, but I think the Clippers are still the big draw.
When I came out here to Kansas in the mid 80s, Wichita State baseball already was very popular. I came here not to long after the Class AAA Aeros left town for much the same reasons the Wranglers did. The Pilots came in a couple years later and did OK their first year but alienated the fans because they wouldn't work with the NBC (they didn't want to go on the road for 2 1/2 weeks during the tournament and made fans who wanted to see both Aeros games and NBC games pay separate admissions).
Year two of the Pilots went very badly because of it, so the Pilot owners sold the team to the Rich family, which at the time owned the NBC. The Riches changed the team's name to the Wranglers.
I know Oklahoma State draws very well in baseball. Kansas and Kansas State draw fair crowds. K-State just upgraded its stadium. Oklahoma draws well for conference and big name opponents, but the Oklahoma City AAA team overall is a bigger draw.
In Omaha, the O-Royals draw better than Creighton, which played both on campus and at Rosenblatt Stadium. Both are playing in new stadiums this year — the O-Royals in a smaller suburban stadium and the CWS and Creighton in a 35,000-seat monstrosity (the NCAA said it wanted a bigger stadium and the O-Royals wanted something smaller).
Nebraska and the Lincoln Salt Dawgs share the same park and both draw pretty well.
I have no hard, fast numbers, but I think the Springfield AA team draws better than Missouri State. Both share the same field.
It would be interesting to see how Arkansas does in comparison to the Northwest Arkansas Naturals, which are just a few miles apart.
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