WICHITA, Kan. –The 83rd NBC World Series powered by Westar Energy is ready to advance the tradition built by those who played and coached in the eight-plus decades of its existence. The National Baseball Congress is pleased to honor that tradition and announce the Hall of Fame inductions of Al “Rusty” Gerhardt, Loren Packard, Doug Stokke, Jack O’Donnell, and Wayne Elliott as the Class of 2017.
Al “Rusty” Gerhardt shined on the mound in two NBC World Series appearances, nabbing the MVP in 1970 for the Grand Rapids (MI) Sullivans, a team that featured nine future Major League players. Gerhardt was similarly impressive in 1971 for the Fairbanks (AK) Goldpanners and earned his second consecutive All-American Award as a pitcher. Over both of his NBC appearances, Gerhardt compiled an impressive 6-1 record while allowing just a single earned run. Gerhardt went on to a professional baseball career following the NBC. A 12th round selection of the San Diego Padres in 1972, Gerhardt made his major league debut at the ripe age of 23. Altogether, he spent nine seasons in the Padres’ organization before coaching in the Padres and Texas Rangers farm systems. He has been a scouting supervisor in the MLB Scouting Bureau since the mid 90’s. Rusty Gerhardt will be the first member of the Hall of Fame class inducted on July 22nd.
Loren “Big Pack” Packard was an intimidating presence in his NBC World Series appearances for the NBC World Champion Boeing Bombers (Wichita, KS) in 1954 and 1955. Packard began his professional baseball career after serving in the Navy during World War II. He won the KOM league batting title in 1948 for the Miami (OK) Owls by posting a .367 average which earned him a promotion to Topeka the following year. He finished the season third in the Western Association in 1949 with a .330 batting average. “Big Pack” soon left his pursuit of the Major Leagues in order to provide for his family by working for Boeing Aircraft in Wichita. Boeing’s championship teams during his seasons saw Packard post impressive numbers during the NBC World Series. For two years with the Bombers, Packard hit an astounding .425 with 5 home runs and 27 RBI. Packard passed away in 1993. Loren Packard will be inducted posthumous on August 5th.
Doug Stokke was an elite defensive infielder and earned All-American status three times for the Fairbanks (AK) Goldpanners from 1975-1977. Stokke was a primary cog in the Goldpanners success that ended with a NBC World Series Championship in 1976 and two second place finishes in 1975 and 1977. Stokke took his success back to the University of Southern California in 1978, winning a National Title and All-Tournament selection at shortstop. The success garnered Stokke a fifth round selection by the Houston Astros in 1978. He concluded his professional career in the Astros farm system after his best offensive season in 1980, hitting .289. Stokke is currently the Vice President of Duke Health Marketing and Communications.
Jack O’Donnell had consistent success throughout the 1960’s in the NBC World Series. O’Donnell burst onto the scene in 1960 earning the first of three NBC All-American selections. He played in ten World Series between 1959 and 1969, managing the Rapid Transit Dreamliners (Wichita, KS) to two World Series Championships in 1962-1963. O’Donnell holds the professional record for winning four games in four consecutive days pitching for the Atlanta Crackers. Jack O’Donnell passed away in 1991. O’Donnell will be inducted posthumous on July 29th.
Wayne Elliott began his path to NBC affiliation with the Zaragoza League in 1989 as the official statistician. A year later, with the backing of a local business, he assembled the Thoppers to compete in the Southwest Regional Tournament. While the Thoppers failed to place, Elliott moved on to found a new team in 1991, the Austin Gold Sox, while also becoming Commissioner of the Zaragoza League. The Gold Sox first won their league in 1996 and made it to Wichita in 18 of the next 19 years for the NBC World Series. Elliott remained as the Commissioner of the Zaragoza League until its completion in 2010. During that time, Elliott battled cancer, endured surgeries, radiation, and chemotherapy, but never missed a Gold Sox game or a trip to Wichita for the NBC World Series. He will be inducted on July 23rd.
In addition to the 2017 class, legendary Coach Augie Garrido will be present for his NBC Hall of Fame induction on July 31st. Garrido is a member of the 2016 class but will be on hand at The 83rd NBC World Series powered by Westar Energy to be recognized for his contributions to the National Baseball Congress.
The 83rd NBC World Series powered by Westar Energy will be played July 22–August 6, with all games being played at Historical Lawrence-Dumont Stadium. To order individual game tickets go to www.selectaseat.com or call 316-977-9400.
About NBC: The NBC World Series is the largest and the oldest continuous sporting event in the United States. This non-profit 501c(3) foundation operates under the supervision of a 16-member volunteer board of directors. To learn more visit www.nbcbaseball.com.