When Bill Pintard got a call in 2017 for a temporary fill-in on his Santa Barbara Foresters baseball squad, he didn’t know that player would turn into a team MVP.
“The next day, Luke Ritter got in his car and drove halfway across the country and drove straight from Wichita to Santa Barbara,” Pintard said.
When Ritter heard about the Foresters and saw where they played, he said, “Why not? I get to go and play in California all summer?”
Luke Ritter, a Wichita State junior from Kansas City, signed a 10-day contract with the Foresters and flopped on his first appearance. He struck out and committed a couple of errors.
Pintard joked with his rookie, saying, “You better pick it up.”
Ritter did and turned the 10-day contract into a permanent one for the summer. He went with the Foresters back to his college city in Wichita and played in his first National Baseball Congress World Series. Ritter said he didn’t even know what that was growing up in Kansas City.
He certainly does now.
“I love this,” he said. “It’s a great field, great fans, great atmosphere with a lot of great guys.”
Ritter went to Rockhurst High School, where he earned Missouri all-state honors as a senior with a .473 average and 43 hits. He has continued that at WSU. Ritter is one of the Shockers’ most versatile players, earning 46 starts at five different positions in 55 games as a sophomore. His play with the Shockers earned him a 37th-round selection by the Minnesota Twins in the 2018 MLB Draft.
Pintard said Ritter is no different with the Foresters.
“He’s the most valuable player, the most valuable teammate, the most valuable human being,” he said. “He plays all over the field, and he’s just a joy to have.”
2018 marks Pintard’s 26th consecutive trip to the NBC World Series with the Foresters. He has created one of the most dominant college summer-league teams in the U.S., going for his seventh World Series title. That got off to a good start Friday with an 18-5 win over Lone Star Baseball Club at Lawrence-Dumont Stadium.
Pintard takes the tournament with complete seriousness, and he said Ritter does, too. That’s why Ritter earned team MVP honors in his first year with the club and was named a captain for 2018. Ritter said coming back to the NBC World Series for a second time has been an honor.
Ritter said he will be back with the Shockers for his senior year, but for now, he is enjoying his time back in Wichita with a group of guys from across the country who have turned into brothers to him.
“It’s good to be back,” he said. “I was gone for two months out in California. It feels good to be back in Wichita. It just feels like home now.”