BY TRISTAN SASSE
With summer right around the corner, so is the beginning of the Hays Larks’ baseball season. A team comprised of collegiate talent from all over the United States comes to Hays yearly to compete together during the summer.
Hays has a longstanding baseball history, with the first games taking place as far back as the late 1860’s. The baseball team was known as the Hays Town Team up until 1946 when they became the Larks.
The Larks, members of the Jayhawk League, will begin the 2018 campaign tonight, Friday, June 1 from Larks Park against the Denver Cougars. Over the course of two months, the Larks will play in 44 regular season games for a chance to qualify for the NBC World Series.
Last season, the Larks finished with an overall record of 34-17 and ended the season ranked no. 18 in the nation out of all collegiate summer baseball teams. The season also featured Manager Frank Leo earning his 1000th career win. Leo will be entering his 36th season as manager of the Larks.
Fort Hays State University pitcher Ryan Ruder is the lone Tiger on the roster. Sloan Baker, brother of New York Knicks guard Ron Baker, from Emporia State is the only other player from the MIAA featured on the team.
Additionally, two coaches on the roster are from Hays, Pitching Coach Keith Harper and Assistant Coach Steve Sedbrook.
The Larks have produced superior talent over the years with a total of 25 former players making it to the Major League and an additional seven players seeing playing time in the minors. Four former Larks have competed in an MLB All-Star Game.
Former notable players that have worn the Larks uniform include, Albert Pujols and Lance Berkman. Both players appeared in multiple MLB All-Star games. Pujols is currently a member of the Los Angeles Angels and has hit the seventh most home runs (621) in Major League history.
The Jayhawk League features seven teams from the state of Kansas. The conference has also produced many household names over the years, including Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds, Ozzie Smith, Rafael Palmeiro, and Trevor Hoffman.
With all of the talent being brought in through the years, locals will be able to experience high-quality baseball from Larks Park. All regular season games are free to attend.