ORIGINALLY WRITTEN DON RATZLAFF
Through his 10 years of state and national leadership in the NBC-Hap Dumont organization, Jerold Vogt has been able to combine two of his great loves: baseball and business.
On the baseball side, Vogt began playing organized ball in his early teens and has been a New York Yankees fan from the days of Mantle, Maris and Ford.
Later, as a father, Vogt coached teams his two sons played on from the time they were young. Some seasons, he coached more than one team.
“I just love the game, that’s all,” he said. “I played Babe Ruth (league) when I was a kid. I just got into it and stayed with it.”
Vogt served as president of the Cottonwood Valley League for a time, and was a director with the Babe Ruth organization when he was invited by a CVL colleague to join the national board of NBC-Hap Dumont. Hap Dumont is the youth division of the National Baseball Congress semi-pro organization based in Wichita.
Vogt soon gave up his Babe Ruth involvement and has stuck with NBC ever since.
That decision, in part, reflects his love for business. The successful owner of grocery stores in Hillsboro and Whitewater, Vogt readily admits that NBC-Hap Dumont-like Babe Ruth and the myriad other baseball organizations across the country-are ultimately business ventures.
“It’s a business is what it is,” he said. “There’s no other way to look at it.”
Once he became familiar with the operation, he felt NBC-Hap Dumont had the best deal going.
“NBC has just been growing every year, so I just kind of stuck it out,” he said.
In 1999, the organization had 1,968 teams charter with them and almost every state in the country was represented. Kansas had 567 teams.
Growth has come by better serving their “customers”-which Vogt sees as the teams that charter with NBC.
“There’s a lot of organizations out there,” Vogt said. “We feel for what we give for our prices, it’s pretty inexpensive.”
Teams can charter with NBC-and thereby qualify to play in district and state tournaments-for a fee of only $16. If they do well enough in those tournaments, they can move on to a “world series” for their respective age division.
NBC offers age divisions for players 10 years old and younger, 12 and under, 14 and under, 16 and under and, for the first time this year, 18 and under.
The newest age division is Vogt’s “baby.” He currently serves the organization as its national vice chairman, but also is national director for the 18-&-under division.
In that role, Vogt’s primary tasks are to remain in contact with the state directors for that age division and to organize the world series. The first world series for 18-&-under teams will be held in Harrison, Ark., beginning July 28.
Vogt started with NBC as a member of the board of directors. He soon was asked to oversee the 10-&-under division. Later, he took on the 16-&-under division as national director and organized world series in Harrison, Arlington, Texas, and Brainerd, Minn.
When the NBC decided to create state boards in addition to their 11-member national board, Vogt served as the Kansas director for a year. Fellow Hillsboroan Bob Hein now fills that role.
Vogt attends national board meetings once every month; the state board meets less frequently. July is Vogt’s busiest month as district and state tournament play begins; his peak season ends when the world series are over in early August.
“For me, I just enjoy it,” Vogt says of the time and energy he devotes to NBC. “There’s lots of opportunities. I’ve seen a lot of ball fields and a lot of talented ball players. But when the tournaments are over, I’m ready for it to be over.”
Vogt’s involvement with NBC has been beneficial to Hillsboro, too. He was instrumental in helping Hillsboro land the 10-&-under district and 16-&-under state tournaments, which generate significant revenue for the city thanks to the fan support.
Those tournaments, in turn, helped fuel interest among city leaders to build the present Sports Complex.
“We were in the midst of trying to get the complex approved,” Vogt said. “So we asked parents who had come here (with teams) and enjoyed Hillsboro to sign petitions to help us get it built.”
Vogt said he was an early advocate for an interscholastic baseball program at Hillsboro High School and was pleased it was finally inaugurated in spring 1999.
Among other advantages, Vogt believes having a high school program will help local players develop their skills and enable them to be more competitive in NBC tournaments-which always attract experienced teams from large cities.
“When I was coaching Hillsboro teams, we’d play a lot of Wichita teams,” Vogt said. “We’d play 10 games a season and then play against teams that had played 50. (A high school program) will help us get on the same playing field with teams from other states, too.”
Vogt has found his first 10 years with NBC to be satisfying ones. Don’t expect him to pull out anytime soon.
“I’m probably a lifer,” he said. “There’s about a month or so that really takes some time. But there’s guys in there who have been with NBC for 25 years or more. Nobody’s really quit since I’ve been there.”