04/12/2011 9:11 AM -
As the T-Bones prepare for their American Association debut in 2011, the excitement continues to build for the start of a new rivalry with the Wichita Wingnuts.
The T-Bones, currently managed by Tim Doherty (pictured, left), moved to Kansas City from Duluth, MN prior to the 2003 season. In just eight seasons, the T-Bones have won a league championship, earned three Organization of the Year awards, two Playing Surface of the Year awards, and have had two players selected as MVP. They also welcomed their 2 millionth fan to CommunityAmerica Ballpark in 2010, and continue to finish in the top five in all of independent baseball in per game average attendance each season.
Doherty has been with the team since 2003, starting as the team’s bullpen and bench coach before taking over as hitting coach with the departure of Darryl Motley. He made his professional managerial debut last season, making an immediate impact with a championship berth and a 58-42 regular-season finish, a franchise-record mark.
The Wingnuts, managed by Kevin Hooper (pictured, right), joined the American Association as an expansion franchise in 2008. After making the playoffs in 2009, Wichita fell just shy of a second playoff berth in 2010; but earned Organization of the Year honors after finishing 50-46.
Hooper played collegiately for Wichita State before being selected by the Florida Marlins in the eighth round of the 1999 draft. He reached the major leagues as a member of the Detroit Tigers in 2005, collecting his first major league hit against Terry Mulholland of the Minnesota Twins on July 21. Hooper played parts of two seasons with Detroit, and finished his playing career with the Wingnuts in 2008, winning the American Association batting title with a .373 average – 40 points better than second place.
Just a three-hour drive down I-35, the close proximity of the two cities allows fans of both teams to experience the rivalry from both CommunityAmerica Ballpark in Kansas City and Lawrence-Dumont Stadium in Wichita. The two teams have 14 regular-season matchups scheduled for 2011, beginning with a three-game set in Wichita from June 3-5.
To reserve your seats for the games here at CommunityAmerica Ballpark, call the T-Bones box office at 913-328-5618! For more information on Wingnuts tickets, call the Wichita box office at 316-264-NUTS (6887).
Fans – what are your feelings on the rivalry? What are you most looking forward to? Head over to the T-Bones Facebook page by clicking here and let us know your thoughts!