SEDGWICK COUNTY, KANSAS

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NOTE: Raymond was originally buried in Pleasant Ridge (Goddard) Cemetery. In 1982 he was entombed in the Mission Mausoleum.

RAY DUMONT, WICHITA BASEBALL PROMOTER, DIES

A baseball era ended in Wichita Saturday with the death of Raymond Harry Dumont, president of National Baseball Congress.

Death came to Dumot, 66, in his office at 338 S. Sycamore Saturday afternoon. He was found on the floor of his office about 3 p.m. by Jerry Gile, who will umpire in the NBC-sponsored 41st state baseball tournament starting Friday at Lawrence Stadium.

The Wichitan, who counted friends in all phases of the baseball world, was respected as one of the top innovators and promoters of baseball and the biggest backer of non-professional baseball.

Dumont was born in Wichita Dec. 26, 1904. His good nature earned him the nickname Happy while still very young. It was shortened to Hap and stuck with him through the years.

After attending Lowell grammar school, he went to old Wichita High, now East. He easily talked himself onto the debate team. He helped the "W Club", lettermen atheletes, produce and perform comedy skits.

Even while in high school he showed his love for long hours of work. In addition to his school activities, he delivered two morning routes of The Eagle on East Douglas; in the evenings he posted news bulletins and sports scores on a big signboard and at night answered the sports desk phone. But he was valedictorian of the Wichita High School class of 1923.

After high school he went to Chicago for a short time where he worked on the stage as a monologist. He later worked as a promoter of wrestling and boxing matches in Topeka and Hutchinson.

He became sports editor of the Hutchinson News when he went there seeking publicity for his matches and found the sports editor had found the sports editor had suddenly left the job.

Pete Lightner, former sports editor of The Eagle, persuaded Dumont to return to Wichita in 1929 to work nights in the sports department of the paper. Days, he set up a sporting goods department for Goldsmith Office Supply Co. The mail order sporting goods sales soon prospered and he devoted full time to that.

His first baseball promotion came when some circus employees asked him to get a local team to play them. The circus could not perform on Sunday because of the Blue Laws in Kansas at the time, but baseball could be played. Dumont arranged a game and after believing some of the city's people would be interested in attending, promoted the game and made $23 profit.

Dumont's love for baseball started at an early age when he attended Western League games played at old Island Park. In the middle of the Arkansas River near the Broadview Hotel. He viewed the games from the scoreboard where he hung up the number of runs each inning.

In 1931, Dumont invited 16 teams from Kansas to Wichita for a tournament because he thought it was a chance to sell more sporting goods equipment. The result was the state tournament which has prospered through the years.

However, after the 1933 tourney, Dumont watched his idea go up in smoke as the Island Park grandstand burned the night after the state tournament championship game.

The Wichitan, with his ever-present cigar and floppy hat, appealed to the city manager for a new stadium. It was in the midst of the depression and Dumont was having a hard time convincing him that a new stadium should be built.

"We'll have a national tournament," Dumont told the city official after the idea "just popped into my mind." That was the clincher. Today, NBC brings 32 teams into Wichita from all over the nation for a double elimination tournament that runs nearly four weeks.

Fifty state tournaments are held qualifying teams for the national meet, which has drawn teams from the Bahamas to Hawaii and Alaska to Florida.

Dumont long was recognized as an innovator and promoter of baseball. He was the first to use compressed air to clean home plate; to have a machine deliver new baseballs to the umpire; to use women umpires, and to provide a microphone so the plate umpire could announce lineup changes to the crowd. He tried orange-colored baseballs at night and developed a scoreboard timer that limits pitchers to 15 seconds between throws and allows 90 seconds between innings.

The tournaments were only a portion of Dumont's baseball business. Through his National Baseball Congress he franchised teams, leagues, umpires, scorekeepers and fan clubs. The NBC does a large business of selling baseballs and Dumont liked to say it was only of only two businesses sanctioned to print the official baseball rules, the other one being Sporting News.

Survivors include his wife, Ula Ann, of the home; a son, Raymond Wesley Dumont, Las Vegas, N.M.; a stepson, Ray Eden, Salem, Ore.; a daughter, Mrs. Julius Govert, Kingman, Kan., and eight grandchildren.

A memorial has been established with the Arthritis Foundation.

Downing Funeral Home has charge.
(Wichita Eagle-Beacon Newspaper ~ Sunday ~ July 4, 1971 ~ Submitted by Lori DeWinkler)

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