The National Baseball Congress World Series in Wichita, Kansas, is so steeped in history that Roger Clemens may not be the best pitcher who’s ever participated in the event. But the legendary player’s appearance this summer may be remembered as a turning point in one of the country’s most iconic tournaments.
“The buzz around Wichita was definitely about the NBC,” says Tournament Director Kevin Jenks. “In recent years, that wasn’t the case.”
The attention extended well out of Kansas. Spurred by the announcement that Clemens and a group of former Major League Baseball players including Adam LaRoche would form a team (dubbed the Kansas Stars) to play in the NBC World Series, ESPNU aired the championship live.
While the annual event primarily features college players starring on summer league teams, it wasn’t a stretch to incorporate the veterans, says Jenks. NBC has hosted 800 future big leaguers, a legacy begun its first year when Satchel Paige struck out 60 batters and won four games 82 years ago. Since then, legends like Tony Gwynn, Barry Bonds, Chipper Jones and Mark McGwire have all made their way through the NBC World Series.
But over the past 20 years or so, NBC lost a bit of its luster, says Jenks, who took over the event from the city of Wichita in 2014. His mission is to return to the glory days when the seats were packed shoulder-to-shoulder.