It was 21 years ago when Rick Twyman and his father Dick founded a baseball team in Lake Havasu City, Arizona and the team that became the Heat would set a high standard over the years for quality baseball and championship teams.

By Karl Younkman
The Wellington Daily News

    It was 21 years ago when Rick Twyman and his father Dick founded a baseball team in Lake Havasu City, Arizona and the team that became the Heat would set a high standard over the years for quality baseball and championship teams.

    And after a second place finish in the Jayhawk League and a runner-up finish in the National Baseball Congress World Series in their inaugural 2013 season  the Wellington franchise of the Heat looks to build on that success in their second summer playing at Hibbs-Hooten Field.

     Owner/Head Coach Twyman, who is also the Associate Head Coach at Friends University, brought a proven brand to Wellington when he relocated the team from Haysville last summer. Since 1993 Twyman has posted a 720-140 record with the Heat that includes 30 league, regional, and national titles over the 20 years. His father Dick ‘Chief’ Twyman was his partner in all things Heat baseball until his untimely death in 2011. ‘Chief’ is now in the National Baseball Congress Hall of  Fame.

  The success that the fans of Wellington witnessed in 2013 was the result of the dedication and plain hard work that Twyman and the organization put forth. But that success was never more evident than in 2007 when the Heat of Lake Havasu won the NBC World Series and finished the season with a record of 62-2. Yes, that’s right. 62 wins. 2 losses.

    “That team hit close to .450 for the season,” Twyman fondly remembers. “As coaches we just sort of guided the ship and made sure we got out of the players way.” The Heat defeated the Hays Larks for the title that year. Hays is now one of the Heat’s rivals in the Jayhawk League.

      The 2014 version of the Heat has the potential for more success and another good season. “While making no predictions I will say we’ll be a pretty good team this summer,” coach Twyman said. “We’ll have about 12 or 13 guys back from last year and though you don’t really know the personalities of the new guys until you work with them on the field, at least on paper we’ll be better than last year.”

    One of the returning players is outfielder Kirk Rocha who is currently playing for Tabor College of Hillsboro and is leading the NAIA in hitting with a .450 average. Rocha also led the Fan Poll for the most popular  Wellington Heat player taken over the off-season.

    While the roster is not officially set as of now, Twyman has been busy on the recruiting circuit. “On the pitching staff we currently have 23 arms under contract,” said Twyman. The contract mentioned of course provides no monetary compensation for the players. What it does provide is a stepping stone for high school, community college and university players to move to the next level of baseball. On any evening there could be any number of pro and college scouts in the stands of a Heat game.

     Two players that Rick helped coach at Friends University will be joining the Heat this summer. Pitchers Brandon McMillan and Brady Bowen will add their skills to the staff for Twyman.

    “My coaches and I love working with and developing the kids that play for us,” says Twyman. “It’s what I strive for and look forward to each year.”

      Coach Twyman’s coaching staff is also top-shelf material. Adam Niesius has put in 25-plus years as a coach and recruiter at Friends and will assist for the Heat this summer. Local product Jesse Dale will again help with the coaching duties and Chad Gill will help keep the sore shoulders and creaky backs to a minimum as Team Chiropractor. Twyman, however, is most excited about his latest addition to the coahing staff.

    “Troy Andrews is joining us this summer,” said Twyman. “And apart from being the father of Rowdy Andrews, one of our returning players, he is a 30 year veteran of the coaching field and holder of a wealth of baseball knowledge. I’m really happy to welcome him to the team.”

    The season opens May 30th and coach Twyman notices that the schedule makers may be trying to turn the heat up on the Heat. “We open with five dates at home and then we hit the road for two weeks,” said coach Twyman. “We were a good road team last season and we went 8-1 against those teams out west that we play those two weeks. That said, it does seem like the schedule is stacked against us early on.”

     Other new competition for the Heat this season will include the Newton Rebels and a new team out of Maize, KS. “We also have a couple of teams from Oklahoma City scheduled,” says Twyman.

     As for the fan base of Wellington, Twyman is pleased with the support the city showed last season and looks forward to more and continuing support for 2014.

       “The ticket procedure and availability will be the same as last year,” says Twyman. “Businesses that choose to support us will have tickets available starting May 1st. And my wife Shar will contact as many businesses as possible to help out.”

     Also, the important and most necessary issue of host families is always on the front burner. “We always need host families for the kids and we can never have enough of them,” Twyman said. “The families we had last year I think enjoyed having the guys stay with them and I know the guys enjoyed staying with them. A lot of the families will be offering up their homes again this year.”

      The outlook for the city of  Wellington with the Heat in residence would appear to only be positive. “I think what we bring in for the city and what the city does for us helps everyone,” says Twyman. “People will ultimately come out to the games and that means they’ll come to the town. And that means from areas all around Wellington. And the support we had at the Series at Lawrence-Dumont was amazing!”

     And the quality of play the Heat has displayed over the years and will continue to display at Hibbs-Hooten this summer will more than likely amaze once again!