In the 1950's and 1960's, El Dorado became the #1 summer league baseball program in the State of Kansas under the leadership of Jim McDonald and the devoted helpers like Lawson Hanes. The program was making great strides and, by 1962, was recognized on "El Dorado Night" at Lawrence Dumont Stadium in Wichita. More than 1000 boys and 1700 girls filled out on the stadium's infield along with coaches and umpires.
Lawson Hanes was an important part, along with many others, in making the baseball program into something the citizens of El Dorado could be proud of and brag about.
Lawson started in 1955 as an announcer and was in charge of the small midget field called McDonald Field located east of the big stadium. He was also asked to umpire upon occasion. His family ran three concession stands from 1955 to around 1970. He also started a midget team in 1956 called the Merchants. He raised all the money by himself to sponsor the team by asking various merchants for money. Their reward was to have their name displayed on the shirt of one player. Lawson's teams won their share of games and championships over the period of years that he coached. He was tough to beat. In 1961 he started and directed a statewide Midget Tournament that was played in El Dorado. The inaugural tournament included 500 players from 31 towns across Kansas. He remained director of this successful tournament through 1966.
Lawson helped coach various all-star teams like the Skelly All-Stars, the Elks All-Stars and the El Dorado Centennial 61'ers. The (61) team, made up of the best players that El Dorado had to offer was coached by Bob Long and Lawson. That team entered a tournament held in Maize, Kansas consisting of 32 teams mostly from the Wichita area. After winning 5 games with no team coming within ten runs and no team scoring more than one, El Dorado was scheduled to play for the Championship on Saturday night. Lawson received word on Saturday morning that the tournament committee didn't want the team to come back because they were too good. Lawson was so mad that he drove to Maize and made the tournament director give him enough money to buy all the El Dorado boys a nice trophy.
Lawson had to quit in 1970 because of knee problems, but after successful surgery, resumed coaching in 1982 because his grandson, Eric Barrier, was playing. A rebirth of the Merchants came in 1984 and 1985, when Lawson, Clare Dunn and Alan Jackson led the team to consecutive league and tournament championships. Lawson's greatest thrill in baseball was watching his grandson, Eric, drive in the winning run against Goddard in the 5A State Tournament semi-final game in 1990. El Dorado had come back from an 8-run deficit. Eric's hit, his second of the inning, put El Dorado in the finals and the team proceeded to beat Hays for the State Championship.
Lawson, A Braves fan, taught a lot of young people how to play and loved the game until his death in 1966.