Professional baseball making its way to El Dorado this summer

Charles Chaney
Butler County Times Gazette
Salina Stockade team photo for the 2021 summer season

EL DORADO, KANSAS—Independent baseball is unique in the fact that players come and go and sometimes, so do teams. 

For the Salina Stockade, they have yet to play a home game due to scheduling conflicts within Dean Evans Stadium in Salina, Kansas. They have played all 28 games away from Salina.

"They put money into the stadium and built it and renovated it," Andrew Dunn, Pecos League Commissioner said about Salina's Dean Evans Stadium. "We're not going to fight them (on the scheduling conflict). We're going places where we are welcomed."

The Salina Journal reported the move yesterday as the team was expecting to spend their remaining games in Colby, Kansas. There were a litany of issues with the city of Salina and the Pecos League, not just due to scheduling.

Despite the conversation with the Salina Journal and the Commissioner of the league, an announcement was made yesterday on the Pecos League website, announcing their move to El Dorado for a handful of games, while also playing a series in Colby. 

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The Stockade will play five games at historic McDonald Stadium, starting on July 14 against the Trinidad Triggers (Colorado) for five games and two more against in-state foe, the Garden City Wind. The team will play three games in Colby against Colorado Springs and Garden City, before coming back to McDonald for the final two games of the regular season.

A July 6 meeting is set to approve the Stockade's use of McDonald Stadium. The city plans to allow the Stockade to use the stadium for free as long as they do not charge admission. The City of El Dorado said in a memo, they do not anticipate any expenses related to the lease beyond what is already anticipated for field maintenance that would happen whether a team plays at McDonald Stadium or not.

The Pecos League reached out the city of El Dorado shortly after the Broncos closed up shop for the 2021 season after one game. Spurred on by Wichita's Bob Lipp, the Stockade reached and made immediate negotiations with the city.

According to the city of El Dorado, multiple teams and leagues reached out. From a potential wood bat summer league to another collegiate baseball team. There's little doubt of the potential use of McDonald Stadium going forward. 

For the Pecos League, they're excited about the arrival into El Dorado and historic McDonald Stadium. They rave about their offensive style of baseball, with every team being able to crank the ball out of the park.

"The league is really fun," Dunn said. "We are an offensive league with a lot of games played in high altitude. So, the ball can really jump off the bat if you don't have the pitching."

Currently, the Stockade play in the 'Mountain North' divivision of the Pecos League. They are a blistering 2-26 on the season, heading into Friday night's games. With 14 teams in the league, six in California or the Pacific Division, four in the Mountain South and four in the Mountain North. Earlier this season, they experienced a 20-game losing streak.

"They have five pitchers and have let position players pitch after drawing straws," Dunn said. "This is the professional ranks and opposing teams aren't going to take it easier on you."

They haven't had the best success in baseball history. Even The Ringer dubbed them the worst team in baseball in 2017.

The Stockade has a six-year history with Salina, though mostly in name only. The team joined the Pecos League in 2016 along with Great Bend and Topeka and played 10 true home games before, but dropped out when the other two teams folded.

Instead, the Pecos League adopted the established Stockade name and brand for a travel team created to fill a vacancy in the independent American Association, which included teams in Wichita and Kansas City. That team played six games at Evans Stadium, but as the visitor.

In 2018, the Stockade filled a similar role in the CanAm League, and the following season in the Pacific Association. Last year it was back in the Pecos League, but again as a traveling team.

The Pecos League was founded in 2011 with six teams and have seen their fair share of success and failures, as all growing leagues experience. 

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Within the league, each team has a 22-man roster with no designated hitter. Each team roster has eight experienced players and 13 rookies. The regular season is nestled in the middle of the summer from June 1 through Augusta 5.

Unlike summer collegiate teams, these are professional baseball players and will be compensated as so, according to Dunn. The compensation is based on the location.

"Salina's team is the lowest paid team in the league," Dunn said. "Everyone knows this and that's why it's been struggle."

Another thing of notice, is the roster is void of any Kansas products. When you glance at other teams around the league, it's not completely abnormal to see no players from that state on a roster. The Pecos League plans to have full concessions, including beer for those who would like a tasty beverage while watching baseball. 

"We're hoping this can be a full-time move," Dunn said. "Nothing we do in this league is to be temporary. We're hoping El Dorado can be that home for the league where we grow together."

Charles Chaney has been the Sports Editor for the Butler County Times-Gazette since Aug. 2019. You can reach him at cchaney@butlercountytimesgazette.com or on Twitter at @ChuckChaneyBCTG.