Next month, a team of former MLB players will take part in the annual National Baseball Congress World Series in Wichita, Kansas. The NBC World Series is typically a league for college-aged amateur players.
The ex-MLBers will play for the Kansas Stars and the roster features a collection of All-Stars, regulars, and journeymen. Adam LaRoche, a Wichita native, and Nate Robertson helped put the club together. From Jeffrey Lutz of the Wichita Eagle:
"I started calling some of the former (Detroit) Tigers that I played with, and then a guy would call another guy," Robertson said. "Most recently, Roger Clemens is going to be one of our pitchers and Josh Beckett reached out to him. (The roster) just kind of got some legs to it, and here we are."
"I put out a feeler, a text message, and I was blown away at the response," LaRoche said. "And I mean, right away, guys responding and were really excited about it, wanting more and more information. I think something about being out of the game, whether it's for a couple months or a couple years, not having that competition is what guys so excited to get back out and play the game."
The players are not paid and the Kansas Stars are planning to donate any winnings to charity. They play their first game on Saturday, August 8. Here is their roster, via the NBC official site (PDF link):
Every player on the roster except Koby Clemens has played in the big leagues. He's also the only player on the roster under the age of 30. He's 29.
Koby is obviously on the team because of his father Roger, the seven-time Cy Young award winner. Roger, now 53, headlines a roster that includes 11 former All-Stars. Some of these guys are not far removed from the big leagues. Penny, LaRoche, Uggla, and Hudson all played in MLB just last season.
Most players are former Braves and Pirates who played with LaRoche, or former Tigers who played with Robertson. Many of these players are returning to the NBC World Series after playing in it as amateurs. Here's more from Lutz:
"I picture this being more of a backyard, group-of-guys get-together to go have a lot of fun and compete," LaRoche said. "Kind of bring back that feeling that we all had in high school and college and the minor leagues, when everybody is truly pulling in the same direction and pulling for each other and, win or lose, just enjoying it and having a good time."
This is really cool. I know some folks are going to see this as a bunch of big shot ex-MLB players hogging the spotlight at an amateur tournament, but they're going to help generate attention and get NBC some new sponsors. Besides, the kids on the opposing teams will love competing against these guys.
The NBC consists of 15 amateur and semi-pro league in the U.S. and Canada. Their annual World Series has been played at Lawrence-Dumont Stadium in Wichita since 1935. The park holds 6,400 fans.