It wasn’t Yankee Stadium or Wrigley Field, but Lawrence-Dumont stadium was “big league” enough for 10 young Marion baseball players who had a “dream team” experience with the Wichita Wingnuts on Thursday.
Justin Wasmuth coached the Marion Rec 10-and-under Lanning Pharmacy team, and he wanted to give his charges a taste of minor league baseball.
“When you live in Marion you don’t have those opportunities all the time,” Wasmuth said.
The Wingnuts’ “Dream Team” promotion gives teams the opportunity to meet the players and collect autographs, and run onto the field with them for pregame introductions. Kids get a team photo, they’re shown on video on the scoreboard, and families get reduced-price tickets to the game.
However, it costs $100 for those privileges. Wasmuth said the pharmacy helped to cover the cost.
Minor leaguers are said to toil in anonymity; Marion players unknowingly gave credence to that after the game.
Cole Smith, Trevor Schafers, and Gavin Wasmuth all drew blanks when asked the names of the players they ran onto the field with, even though Gavin picked that as a favorite moment.
“It was pretty cool in front of everybody,” he said.
Cole didn’t quite know what to make of Spinner, the Wingnuts mascot.
“Is that a bumblebee with a baseball?” he said. “Is that a chipmunk?”
Trevor picked up autographs from “No. 14,” who was former major leaguer and coach Nate Robertson.
“I got one on the back of my shirt and on my hat,” he said.
The Wingnuts lost to Laredo 12-3, but Gavin was still impressed.
“I’d like to be that good,” he said.
Trevor set his sights higher.
“We want to be better,” Trevor said. “We don’t want to lose.”
Cole said his favorite part of the game was when an umpire “almost got knocked out” when he was hit by a ball.
“He had a facemask on and he was OK,” Cole said.
Wasmuth said about 50 kids, friends, and family went, and because the game was lightly-attended, Marion fans had their own section.
“We scared everyone away,” Trevor said.
As principal of Marion Elementary School, Wasmuth is used to kids enjoying and remembering things other than what adults would. He said he hoped they would remember how much fun it was.
“The best thing I saw was team camaraderie,” Wasmuth said. “We added a couple of kids this year on the team, and the kids took them in quickly. It was just one big group. It was fun to watch.”