Summer baseball leagues entertaining lead-up to NBC tournament

By Bob Rives | July 1, 2024

They called it “the million-dollar outfield” at a time when a million dollars went much farther than it does today.
In 1983, the Hutchinson Broncos, a summer collegiate team, had Barry Bonds, Rafael Paliermo and Pete Incaviglia in the outfield and Rick Wrong catching. That quartet would go on to the Majors starting in 1986 and leave it with 1,540 home runs in their wake, 762 from Bonds, the all-time leader in that category.
Bonds was playing that summer from Arizona State, Palmeiro from Mississippi State and Incaviglia from Oklahoma State. Wrong was a Wichita State Shocker.
Not every summer collegiate team comes so well-equipped. Yet in most summers, at least some of the players have big league careers ahead of them, paths that start on diamonds in mid Kansas such as Wichita’s McAdams Park, Newton’s Klein-Scott Field and the Mulvane Sports Complex.
Locally, eight teams play in Kansas Collegiate League Baseball: the Mulvane Patriots, Park City Rangers, Valley Center Mud Daubers, El Dorado Walnuts, Winfield Moos, Wellington Heat, Clearwater Curve and Wichita-based Farmers. Other teams play in the Jayhawk Collegiate Conference, including the Derby Twins, Newton Rebels, Wichita Dirtbags, Haysville Aviators and Augusta’s Kansas Cannons.
Some of the league’s schedule and other information can be found at, and several teams have their own Facebook pages with more.
While many players do eventually pursue pro careers like the million-dollar outfield, their summer pay is basically room and board. Local families host players for part or all of the two-month season. The result sometimes is a lifelong friendship. Bonds, for instance, paid for his summer host’s son to go to college.
For fans, the good news is that admission to many of the games is free or at most a modest amount. And that ticket price often buys a look not only at today’s top college talent but sometimes the brightest stars of all.
The best of these summer league teams from around the country will be playing for the National Baseball Congress championship at Eck Stadium on the WSU campus from July 25-Aug. 3. Founded in 1935 by Wichitan Hap Dumont, the tourney is one of the nation’s oldest sporting events. This year, the tournament will include 16 teams. More than 800 big leaguers have played in NBC tournaments.
Bob Rives is the author of “Baseball in Wichita” (Arcadia Publishing, 2004). He can be reached at

Win tickets to NBC tourney
The Active Age is giving away 20 pairs of tickets to the National Baseball Conference World Series, to be held July 25-Aug. 3 at Eck Stadium on Wichita State University’s campus. The tickets can be used for any of the tournament’s games. To enter our drawing for the tickets fill out the form below.