Wichita Wind Surge
There’s a long history of minor league baseball in Wichita, though it’s been more than a decade since affiliated baseball has been played in the city. The highly anticipated opening day for the new team is Tuesday, April 14, 2020, when the Memphis Redbirds, Triple-A affiliate of the 11-time world champion St. Louis Cardinals, visit Wichita.
The team is in the Pacific Coast League, which has 16 teams competing from midwestern, western and southeastern states. You’ll see top prospects as well as players who have already played in the majors competing at this level, the highest level of Minor League Baseball and one step below Major League Baseball. Wichita’s team is affiliated with the Miami Marlins and is replacing the New Orleans Baby Cakes, whose current owner is moving the team to Wichita.
The inaugural season will include 70 home games. Notable league opponents include: the Omaha Storm Chasers (Kansas City Royals), the Oklahoma City Dodgers (Los Angeles Dodgers), Iowa Cubs (Chicago Cubs), Nashville Sounds (Texas Rangers) and Sacramento River Cats (San Francisco Giants), the 2019 PCL champions who went on to win the Triple-A National Championship by beating the International League Champion.
experience the inaugural season
Expect more than baseball when you attend a game. The Wind Surge will have weekly promotions including Thirsty Thursdays, Friday Night Fireworks and a series of bands on Saturday nights. There will be fun for all ages, including a kids play area and a splash pad; creative food and drink concessions with a local flare; as well as suites, club level, group seating and party areas.
The team’s home field will be a new state-of-the-art venue currently under construction along the banks of the Arkansas River in downtown Wichita. The $75 million stadium will seat 6,500 plus 3,500 more on berms and picnic areas and is being built on the site where Lawrence-Dumont Stadium stood from 1934 to 2018.
Fan comfort is being built into the stadium, from drink rails and wide rows in the seating bowl that won’t require you to get up each time someone walks out of the row to uninterrupted views of the field from the concourse.
The Surge are planning on more than 100 additional events each year beyond the possible 77 baseball games (70 regular season home games plus as many as seven playoff games). They’ve hinted at football games, an outdoor hockey game featuring the Wichita Thunder minor league hockey team, an outdoor skating rink, concerts, festivals and more.
Wichita Wind Surge is advertising family entertainment at family prices with the highest priced ticket at $15.
Season tickets are available now, individual tickets will go on sale at a later date. The complete 2020 schedule with game times and road games has been released. Call 316-390-7719 or visit windsurge.com for information.
Photo Credit: WSU Libraries, Special Collections and University Archives
From ballfields in Riverside Park in the 1800s to games in the early 1900s at Island Park in the middle of the Arkansas River on what was then Ackerman Island, baseball has been a part of Wichita’s history.
Wichita had a minor league team from 1908 through 1933, when the stadium on Ackerman Island burned. The city of Wichita built a new stadium in 1934 to launch a national tournament organized by sporting goods salesman Raymond “Hap” Dumont. Similar tournaments had failed on both coasts, but Dumont secured Satchel Paige – considered the greatest pitcher of the day – who came in and struck out 60 batters while winning four games. That brought national attention to the tournament and Wichita.
The National Baseball Congress World Series remained at the stadium – eventually named Lawrence-Dumont Stadium for the tournament founder and Wichita’s mayor when the stadium was built, Charles S. Lawrence – until the stadium was demolished in 2018. The tournament is still played in Wichita and each year brings the top college-age and amateur players to compete for a national championship. More than 800 NBC World Series players have gone on to play Major League Baseball, including league MVPs, Cy Young Award winners and Hall of Famers.
Part of Wichita’s baseball history is the prominence of the Wichita State University baseball program, which claims Joe Carter, Mike Pelfrey and Darren Dreifort as notable alumni.
The Shockers made five trips to the College World Series in six years in the late 1980s and early 1990s, bringing home the national championship in 1989. The team is now coached by WSU alum and former MLB skipper Eric Wedge.
Professional baseball team history in Wichita:
- Wichita Wingnuts, Wichita’s independent league baseball team playing in the American Association of Independent Professional Baseball from 2008-2018
- Wichita Wranglers, Wichita’s Double-A team playing in the Texas League from 1989 to 2007
- affiliated with San Diego Padres (1989-1994), Kansas City Royals (1995-2007)
- Wichita Pilots, Wichita’s Double-A team playing in the Texas League from 1987 to 1988
- affiliated with San Diego Padres (1987-1988)
- Wichita Aeros, Wichita’s Triple-A team from 1970-1984
- affiliated with Cleveland Indians (1970–71), Chicago Cubs (1972–80), Texas Rangers (1981), Montreal Expos (1982–83), Cincinnati Reds (1984)
- Wichita Braves, Wichita’s Triple-A team from 1956-1958
- affiliated with the Milwaukee Braves
- Wichita Indians, Wichita’s Triple-A team from 1950-1955
- affiliated with St. Louis Browns (1950), Cleveland Indians (1951-1952), St. Louis Browns (1953), Baltimore Orioles (1954-1955)
- From 1905 through 1933, Wichita’s minor league baseball team switched names frequently between the Wichita Jobbers, Wichita Witches, Wichita Izzies , Wichita Larks, Wichita Aviators and Wichita Oilers.