Great Bend’s Bat Cats baseball team had a great first year, winning three of four games at the NBC World Series before losing to Cheney’s Diamond Dawgs.
To help with the cost of attending the World Series at Wichita, the Great Bend City Council voted to refund the $750 facility charge for use of Al Burns Field.
Even though the city is strapped for cash, and even though it needs to invest more money in Al Burns Field eventually, refunding the Bat Cats’ $750 was a wonderful gesture.
The team has been an asset to our community in many ways.
General Manager Roger Ward grew up in Great Bend and Al Burns Field doesn’t look much different than it did when he played there. That’s OK for now — his team travels in a used bus and doesn’t have the amenities that established rival teams enjoy. But, much like the Wichita State Shockers in basketball, the players have embraced that “blue collar vs. blue bloods” vibe and shown they are willing to work. Most of the players are from Kansas, which isn’t the case with other teams.
You don’t have to be a sports fan or go to a baseball game to appreciate the number of hotel rooms and restaurant seats that were filled this year, thanks to the Bat Cats. And with Ward’s knowledge of the business, we can expect the team to stick around for more than a year or two.
Ward loves seeing a strong fan base in the seats, with kids looking up to his players as role models. That’s why the Bat Cats don’t charge admission to their games.
“It’s always going to be free to watch the Great Bend Bat Cats,” Ward said this week. The public’s support means a lot, as with any local business.
Ward is proud to have “Great Bend” on his team’s shirts, and we are proud of our team.
The success of its first season is just icing on the cake — an inside-the-park home run.