by Geoff Wright
Well, it’s been awhile since the last time. I should be more consistent with weekly posts from here on out. Since the season is still in its infancy, I’ll proceed with part 2 in my series of posts on the history of the KVKL. By the time I’m through with these (only one or two more), the season will be in full swing, and I’ll start covering current events.
The 2003 season began with a lot of anticipation. Word had spread about Sunday night kickball, and people wanted in on it. Newly appointed commissioner Scott Edwards decided to go large, allowing 20 teams in. Logistically, this was not an easy task. We had mostly played at South Park the previous year, but this would never work with such a large league. The answer was an obscure park tucked away in East Lawrence. With two games in SP and two in Edgewood going at a time, Scott was able to get all the games in before it got too dark.
To make scheduling easier, Scott split the league into four divisions of five teams. John Brown, William S. Burroughs, Langston Hughes and James Naismith divisions were born, and remained the only four until the current six “pool” format was introduced last year. The fact that we needed divisions also meant the league needed a name. Scott chose Kaw Valley Kickball.
Several of the teams that played the first year were much better in ’03. The prior season’s champion, Teller’s, did not return. The most dominant team by far was Wattleneck, a combination of Wa and Bottleneck employees. They went undefeated and, due to popular demand, Scott designed a format for the first ever Kaw Valley Kickball postseason tournament.
The level of play jumped up a peg during the postseason, and by the time Wattleneck and Rudy’s met in the championship game the local media had grown interested. The Lawrence Journal World ran an article previewing the game, and KJHK ran a live radio broadcast from South Park. We were famous! Wattleneck won a very competitive game in front of somewhere around 200 people, maybe more. It was widely understood that there should ALWAYS be a postseason tournament.
The 2004 season is the one blank spot in my memory of KVKL, as I was pressured into the dreaded Sunday night shift. I only managed to make a couple games that year, but I worked with Scott so I still got to hear all about how things were progressing. Feel free to contribute it you remember anything about that season.
The structure of the league stayed the same, and the two best teams were Papa Keno’s and Love Garden. Most of the Keno’s players worked in the restaurants in the Kansas City area, and were the most athletic and polished team around. The core of that team is still around, though you know them as Pita Pit. Love Garden was nowhere near as athletic, but used a steadfast bunt offense to get runners on base to manufacture runs. Predictably, these teams met in the championship game, with Love Garden taking their first championship. This game laid the foundation for a rivalry that’s lasted for years and yielded some of the best games in KVKL history.