Idea for pitch clock has ties to Wichita, NBC World Series founder

The idea for the pitch clock implemented in the MLB this year goes back several decades with a Wichita connection.
Published: Mar. 31, 2023 at 8:03 AM CDT
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - If you’re a baseball fan, you may have noticed a big change to the game this year.

Major League Baseball has implemented a pitch clock to speed up and shorten games. But the idea dates back several decades and has its roots in Wichita, thanks to National Baseball Congress World Series founder Hap Dumont. More than 50 years after his death, Dumont is still making his mark on the game.

Chris Davis grew up and around baseball.

He and his sister worked during games at what was then known as Lawrence Stadium, and his dad, Larry, worked with Dumont.

“Some of the players we saw go through there, and the friendships that we made with the scouts, it was an unbelievable childhood to grow up in that environment,” Davis said.

Under Dumont’s watch, the NBC brought many players that were on the rise to the Air Capital, including Negro Leagues legend Satchel Paige, who made a living as a barnstorming superstar.

During the 1962 NBC World Series, Dumont announced the addition of a pitch clock. With many games scheduled each day for about two weeks, the need to shorten games was paramount.

“I used to run the clock, that was part of my job,” Davis said. “Teams had 90 seconds between innings and pitchers had 20 seconds to throw the ball. It sat out there in right field for years. It speed the game up. It might not speed one game up, but when you’re playing four or five a night, it certainly did.”

The pitch clock became a success and is still used during the NBC World Series. After being tested in minor league baseball, including with the Wind Surge, the clock was adopted in the major leagues this year.

Davis said Dumont’s vision has not only helped modernize the game, but it put Wichita on the baseball map.

“He knew how to promote and get people in the stands,” Davis said. “His ideas were phenomenal. He was a great guy.”