A life of baseball always has an ending, but a legacy in baseball can endure forever. You don’t need to be a superstar, a benchwarmer or a player at all. Impact is not always measured by a Hall of Fame plaque or World Series rings. The story of Lou Schwechheimer’s life in baseball is perhaps one that you never heard of, but one that many others in America will never forget. Prior to his tragic passing on Wednesday at the age of 62, Schwechheimer worked tirelessly to grow the game.
Lou’s latest initiative was to transform Wichita into a baseball city. In cooperation with local officials, they funded and built one of the most beautiful minor league parks in Riverfront Stadium in preparation for the 2020 season. He believed in bringing high-level baseball back to the Wichita community, a place that was special to him. This wasn’t going to be just another Triple-A franchise—he wanted it to become THE Triple-A franchise.
“It’s a magic time for us in Wichita,” he said, and everyone believed it with season tickets selling out in just one day.
Whoa.....first fan arrived at stadium at 5:45 am for Opening Day tickets.....and the line keeps on growing. Wichita, you ROCK. https://t.co/h5evMu7hI9— Lou Schwechheimer (@LSchwechheimer) March 7, 2020
This was going to be an ideal environment for baseball players to complete their development. Players in the Miami Marlins clubhouse today only had positive experiences with Schwechheimer through his years in New Orleans running the Zephyrs-turned-Baby Cakes. As one player told me: “Every time I saw him, you could see the excitement he had for baseball. Hell, he even asked me one time if he could catch for me!”
Ever since his arrival in Wichita, and dating back to New Orleans and the decades before that with the Pawtucket affiliate of the Red Sox organization, the man was consistently somebody who loved baseball and wanted you to feel that same passion. When the Wichita Wind Surge open up their stadium for MiLB games for the first time and as they throw out their first pitch, Lou will be there. He will be there in spirit with every fan and every player.
Thank you, Lou, for not only what you accomplished in life, but for enabling professional baseball to exist and thrive in these communities. The seeds you planted will continue to convert new people into baseball fans for generations to come.