Jul. 29—In his closing remarks on Wednesday afternoon, Chris Dawson wanted to be sure to thank the community and people of Joplin.
"Without them, we can't do what we do with the host families and the sponsorships," Dawson said. "I had countless people come up to me throughout the year and say it was the best summer ever. Mark and Edwina (Rains) said we had some of the biggest crowds (at Joe Becker Stadium) we have ever had.
"For the people in Joplin and the surrounding areas to support us the way they did, it was phenomenal. I want to tip my cap to them and say thank you."
Dawson, the assistant baseball coach at McPherson (Kan.) College, has wrapped up his first season as the skipper of the Joplin Outlaws. The Outlaws' season ended with a 9-3 loss to the Sedalia Bombers in the MINK League South Division championship on Tuesday night.
Joplin went 19-22 in MINK League play this summer, and Dawson enjoyed his experience in his inaugural season here.
"It was a good season," Dawson said. "We had some ups and downs. Other than the Clarinda A's, every other team in the MINK had its ups and downs. I told our guys on Tuesday that there is nothing we should hang our heads about. There were a lot of positives that came out of this season, and everyone had a good summer for the most part.
"Yeah, I would like to win a little bit more and win the last game of the summer instead of losing, but only one team can do that. Sedalia was a tough opponent. Overall, it was a really good summer. There's a lot to build on and a lot to look forward to."
One of the top achievements of the season was the Outlaws set a league record with 137 stolen bases. The St. Joseph Mustangs were the closest to the Outlaws with 77.
Right-hander Christian DeJesus, the team's top hurler and a Hawaii native, tied Joplin's single-season strikeout record (53) by fanning Jefferson City's Kolin Demel in the fifth inning on Monday night. The Outlaws beat the Renegades 5-3 to pick up their first postseason victory in franchise history.
"(Joe Becker) was electric that night," Dawson said. "It made for a better atmosphere with us coming from behind. Jeff City has been a tough opponent all summer long. (Coach) Mike DeMilia does it the right way up there. They have some talented players. It was a fun game. I honestly thought we would run away with it after we jumped up 2-0, but we got cold and they answered back. To score three runs in the fashion we did, that was pretty fun.
"To get that crowd going late in the game, that was also awesome."
A Waterdown, Canada, native, Caleb Feuerstake led Joplin with a .378 batting average (34 for 90) with 10 doubles, two home runs and 17 runs batted in. Ethan Ellis and Logan Cline each hit .306 while Cline paced the team with 26 RBI.
The Outlaws' pitching staff finished with a 3.70 ERA with 365 strikeouts and 171 walks in 340 innings. DeJesus and Jack O'Brien led the staff with 3-1 records.
Dawson said leading Joplin at historic Joe Becker will be a memory he will hold on for some time.
"Anytime you can play in a stadium like that, it just adds to the atmosphere and adds to the experience of the summer," Dawson said. "I didn't know the complete history of Joe Becker until I got here and heard all the stories. I got to play and coach in Lawrence-Dumont Stadium in Wichita, Kansas. Everyone knows the greats in and out of there. To add Joe Becker to the list is awesome, especially with the likes of Mickey Mantle to come through Joplin."