throughout

kimbeleytilley

2016_yearbooks_free

111th W.G. & Eddie Stroecker Midnight Sun Game on 6/21

The Alaska Goldpanners of Fairbanks program has a tremendous reputation throughout

the baseball world, yet its profound impact on baseball history is understood by

few. The Goldpanners were pioneers in the promotion of collegiate sports, and rode

the strength of the college athlete to many achievements on and off the field. The club

operates in a manner similar to a Minor League Baseball team (playing daily, using wood

bats, traveling by bus), thereby preparing college athletes for the rigors of pro ball.

This summer the Goldpanners organization

will be in its 57th season of operation. The

success of the program in player development

has far exceeded that of any other team

in the history of amateur baseball. The bulk of

that success is attributable to the 50-year run

of Don Dennis, who was associated with the

club since coming to Fairbanks in1964, and

General Manager from 1967 through 2011.

Over 200 Goldpanners have reached Major

League Baseball as players, including Barry

Bonds (83), Tom Seaver (64-65), and Dave

Winfield (71-72). Even more significant is the

record number of 1,180 Goldpanners drafted

by Major League Baseball teams. There

have also been numerous others who translated

their summer experience into success

throughout the professional world.

From the beginning of its operation in 1959,

the club’s goal has been to assist the young

athlete in maximizing his potential to the

fullest. Intensifying the personal disciplines

required to succeed during the difficult Alaskan

baseball season is the means to achieve

this end. Aside from the physical discipline

required to compete at the highest level of

amateur baseball, there are many off-field

challenges which require mental discipline.

Triumphing over these struggles with strong

physical and mental discipline forges the type

of character which enhances success in all

areas of life.

The compressed schedule forces players to

rapidly develop these traits in an environment

which requires an extreme level of endurance

and dedication. The challenge presented is

to meet and overcome all personal and ath-

letic struggles during the team’s march for a

record-expanding seventh NBC World Series

championship.

Though started as a humble town team in

the “North of the Range League”, the Alaska

Goldpanners gained wide fame almost immediately

after finishing second overall in

the the national tournament, which is held in

Wichita, Kansas. Over its 82-year history,

only the Goldpanners have won the championship

six times (72-73-74-76-80-02).

The curiosity about the team’s Alaskan roots,

mixed with the entertainment of a young

team composed entirely of collegians, endeared

many fans to the Goldpanners. The

continued successes of the club led to an

almost cult-like following during the 60s and

70s. The team’s allure has only continued to

grow.

Over the years, the club has achieved numerous

national and international distinctions,

leading to world-wide fame rivalling that of

many professional teams. The influence of

the Goldpanners in the baseball world is still

on the ascent even now. Besides the growing

popularity of the Midnight Sun Game, the

team’s alumni often continue with the game

after their playing careers are over, and are

now positioned administratively throughout

all levels of play.

During the past few years, legendary ballplayer

Bill “Spaceman” Lee (66-67-08) has

taken it upon himself to spread the word of

the world-class Fairbanks program, even

declaring that the club was “the number one

amateur baseball organization in history.”

Midnight Sun Sweep of 2015 NBC Champs

Eight-Year Midnight Sun Game Win Streak

2016 GROWDEN PARK SCHEDULE

JUNE 17

JUNE 18

JUNE 19

JUNE 20

JUNE 21

JUNE 22

JUNE 24

JUNE 25

JUNE 26

JUNE 27

JUNE 28

JUNE 29

JUNE 30

JULY 4

JULY 5

JULY 6

JULY 7

JULY 8

JULY 9

JULY 10

7p

7p

3p

7p

10:30

7p*

7p

7p

3p

7p

7p

7p

7p

7p

7p

7p

7p

7p

1p

Fairbanks Adult All-Stars

Kenai (AK) Oilers

Kenai (AK) Oilers

Kenai (AK) Oilers

Kenai (AK) Oilers

Kenai (AK) Oilers

San Diego (CA) Stars

San Diego (CA) Stars

San Diego (CA) Stars

San Diego (CA) Stars

San Diego (CA) Stars

San Diego (CA) Stars

San Diego (CA) Stars

San Francisco (CA) Seals

San Francisco (CA) Seals

San Francisco (CA) Seals

San Francisco (CA) Seals

San Francisco (CA) Seals

San Francisco (CA) Seals

San Francisco (CA) Seals

JULY 15

JULY 16

JULY 16

JULY 17

JULY 18

JULY 19

JULY 20

7p

5p

8p

3p

7p

7p

7p

Everett (WA) Merchants

Everett (WA) Merchants

Everett (WA) Merchants

Everett (WA) Merchants

Everett (WA) Merchants

Everett (WA) Merchants

Everett (WA) Merchants

Alaska Bowl - 7/22,23 bracket at goldpanners.com

2016 PERSONNEL DIRECTORY

PRESIDENT/INTERIM GM: John Lohrke

VICE PRESIDENT: Brian Rasley

VICE PRESIDENT: Jim Dixon

TREASURER: Virginia Farmier

FIELD MANAGER: Tim Kelly

TRAINING STAFF: Jim Kimbal

STADIUM OPERATIONS: Christoph Falke

MARKETING DIRECTOR: Mike Cloutier

MARKETING ASSISTANT: Dave Slater

ADDITIONAL SALES: Don Seeliger

HOUSING DIRECTOR: Rhonda Lohrke

GROWDEN BEAUTIFICATION: Stacey Joosse

SECURITY: Charles Noble

VEHICLES: Seekin’s Ford

BROADCASTER: Gero von Dehn

MEDIA INTERN: Tal Norvell

TICKETING: John Denning, Bri Dennis

PUBLIC ADDRESS: Raleigh Johnson

PRESSBOX & PANNERVISION: Tom Dennis

YEARBOOK: Todd Dennis

www.goldpanners.com

www.facebook.com/Goldpanners

http://twitter.com/Goldpanners

P.O. Box 71154 Fairbanks, Alaska 99707 907-451-0095

1


1960-2015: 56 Seasons of Championship Baseball

Holder of Many State, National and International Titles, Including1966 World Crown

In 1959, shortly after the passage of the

Alaska Statehood Bill, University of Alaska

Fairbanks basketball coach Ray Wheeler determined

to field a baseball club.

Ray sought to generate support from a number

of local baseball enthusiasts. In the process

of preparing for the season, he ordered

a set of uniforms to be manufactured by a local

sporting goods store: Pan-Alaska Sports,

which was operated by WWII veteran H.A.

(Red) Boucher.

Despite Wheeler’s best efforts that spring,

he was unable to get the team onto the field.

Boucher, then stuck with a set of uniforms for

a team that didn’t exist, organized his own

push to see the project through.

This he did, and 56 years later through the

leadership of Boucher and Don Dennis (starting

in 1967) the Alaska Goldpanners organization

has won a record number of state,

national and international records.

The successes of the club are numerous. Listed

on this page are year-by-year results for all

56 seasons.

YEAR MANAGER G W L %

1960 Boucher 18 11 7 61%

1961 Boucher 16 12 4 75%

1962 Boucher 31 24 7 77%

1963 Boucher 57 45 12 79%

1964 Boucher 54 35 19 65%

1965 Boucher 57 38 19 67%

1966 Boucher 63 50 13 79%

1967 Boucher 55 45 10 82%

1968 Boucher 48 37 11 77%

1969 Boucher 59 41 18 69%

1970 Olsen 57 38 19 67%

1971 Dietz 68 46 22 68%

1972 Dietz 60 40 20 67%

1973 Dietz 66 49 17 74%

1974 Dietz 80 60 20 75%

1975 Dietz 68 51 17 75%

1976 Dietz 82 56 26 68%

1977 Dietz 78 48 30 62%

1978 Hines 69 41 28 59%

1979 Hines 66 45 21 68%

1980 Hines 52 43 9 83%

1981 Hines 44 26 18 59%

1982 Hines 57 40 17 70%

1983 Snow 61 42 19 69%

1984 Snow 65 42 23 65%

1985 Kelly 66 41 25 62%

1986 Weathers 62 39 23 63%

1987 Weathers 59 40 19 68%

1988 Weathers 67 46 21 69%

1989 Harrison 52 30 22 58%

1990 Dietz 57 37 20 65%

1991 Dietz 61 47 14 77%

1992 Dietz 47 22 25 47%

1993 Dietz 59 36 23 61%

1994 Baumann 55 36 19 65%

1995 Parker 51 33 18 65%

1996 Parker 54 24 30 44%

1997 Leppert 56 38 18 68%

1998 Cowgill 56 31 25 55%

1999 Cowgill 45 24 21 53%

2000 Cowgill 48 28 20 58%

2001 Jones 53 26 27 49%

2002 Cheff 57 38 19 67%

2003 Cheff 55 38 17 69%

2004 Cheff 45 29 16 64%

2005 Cheff 51 39 12 76%

2006 Cheff 43 21 22 49%

2007 Gloyd 43 23 20 53%

2008 Gloyd 38 18 20 47%

2009 Gloyd/Dietz 73 34 39 46%

2010 Dietz 49 34 15 69%

2011 Dietz 35 27 8 77%

2012 Dietz 47 25 22 51%

2013 Harris 57 35 17 61%

2014 Grahovac 48 37 11 77%

2015 Stephens 49 15 34 30%

TOTALS 3,066 1,993 1073 65%

1960 Championship: North of the Range League

1961 Championship: North of the Range League

1961 Championship: N.B.C. Alaska Regional Tournament

1961 Second Place: Alaska State Championship

1962 Championship: North of the Range League

1962 Championship: Alaska State Tournament

1962 Championship: N.B.C. Alaska Regional Playoff

1962 Championship: N.B.C. Alaska Regional Tournament

1962 Second Place: N.B.C. World Series

1962 Award: National Non-Pro Team of the Year

1962 Award: Most Popular National Non-Pro Team

1963 Award: Most Popular National Non-Pro Team

1963 Championship: N.B.C. Alaska Regional Tournament

1963 Third Place: N.B.C. World Series

1964 Championship: Alaska State Tournament

1964 Championship: N.B.C. Alaska Regional Tournament

1964 Second Place: N.B.C. World Series

1965 Championship: N.B.C. Alaska Regional Tournament

1965 Fourth Place: N.B.C. World Series

1966 Championship: N.B.C. Alaska Regional Tournament

1966 Championship: Hawaii International Baseball Tourn.

1966 Championship: World Baseball Tournament

1967 Championship: N.B.C. Alaska Regional Tournament

1967 Fourth Place: N.B.C. World Series

1968 Championship: N.B.C. Alaska Regional Tournament

1969 Second Place: N.B.C. Alaska Regional Tournament

1969 Fourth Place: N.B.C. World Series

1970 Championship: N.B.C. Alaska Regional Tournament

1970 Championship: N.B.C. Big West Conference Tourn.

1970 Fourth Place: N.B.C. World Series

1971 Second Place: N.B.C. Alaska Regional Tournament

1971 Second Place: N.B.C. World Series

1972 Championship: N.B.C. Alaska Regional Tournament

1972 Championship: N.B.C. World Series

1972 Fifth Place: Honkbal Baseball Week in Holland

1973 Championship: Alaska World Series

1973 Championship: N.B.C. World Series

1973 Championship: Kamloops International Tournament*

1974 Championship: Alaska Baseball League

1974 Championship: N.B.C. World Series

1974 Championship: Kamloops International Tournament*

1975 Championship: Alaska World Series

1975 Championship: Kamloops International Tournament*

1975 Championship: N.B.C. Far West Regional Tourn.

1975 Second Place: N.B.C. World Series

1976 Second Place: World Crown Tournament

1976 Championship: Pueblo Tournament of Champions

1976 Championship: N.B.C. World Series

1976 Championship: Kamloops International Tournament*

1977 Championship: Kamloops International Tournament*

1977 Championship: Alaska Baseball League

1977 Championship: Alaska State Tournament

1977 Championship: N.B.C. Northwest Regional

1977 Second Place: National Baseball Congress World Series

1978 Championship: Alaska Baseball League

1979 Championship: Alaska Baseball League

1980 Championship: Alaska Baseball League

1980 Championship: National Baseball Congress World Series

1981 Championship: Alaska Baseball League

1982 Championship: Alaska Baseball League

1983 Championship: Alaska Baseball League

1983 Championship: Top of the World Series

1983 Championship: N.B.C. Alaska Regional Tournament

1983 Second Place: National Baseball Congress World Series

1984 Championship: Alaska Baseball League

1984 Third Place: National Baseball Congress World Series

1985 Championship: Alaska Regional NBC State Tournament

1986 Championship: Alaska Baseball League Pacific Division

1987 Second Place: U.S. Open Tournament - Hawaii

1988 Championship: U.S. Open Tournament - Tahoe

1989 Championship: Midnight Sun Invitational

1990 Championship: U.S. Open Tournament - Ontario

1991 Championship: Alaska Baseball League

1991 Championship: National Shootout Tourney - Amarillo

1991 Second Place: U.S. Open Tournament - Carson City

1993 Championship: Alaska Federation

1993 Championship: Alaska Baseball League

1993 Second Place: Grand National Baseball Tournament

1994 Championship: Alaska Baseball League

1994 Championship: Alaska Invitational Tournament

1994 Second Place: Grand National Baseball Tournament

1995 Championship: Alaska Federation

1995 Championship: Alaska Baseball League

1996 Championship: Hawaii International Tournament

1996 Second Place: Kelowna International Tournament

1997 Second Place: Alaska Invitational Tournament

1997 Second Place: Kelowna International Tournament

1998 Second Place: Kelowna International Tourn.

2001 Championship: Wood Bat Invitational Tournament

2002 Championship: Alaska Baseball League

2002 Championship: N.B.C. World Series

2003 Championship: Alaska Baseball League

2005 Championship: Alaska Baseball League

2005 Winners: Midnight Sun Game Centennial

2009 Championship: Kamloops International Tournament

2011: Second Place: Kamloops International Tournament

2013 Championship: Barona (CA) Bash Invitational Tournament

2013 Championship: Alaska Baseball League

2013 Championship: ABL Post Season Tournament

2014 Championship: Alaska-American Division

2

45-YEAR G.M. DON DENNIS IN 2011

2014 Championship: “Top of the World Series”

2014 Championship: Alaska Baseball League

TEAM FOUNDER H.A. (RED) BOUCHER

DON DENNIS & BILL STROECKER


JOHN LOHRKE NAMED FOURTH PRESIDENT IN CLUB HISTORY

The Alaska Goldpanners of Fairbanks

baseball club has named John Lohrke

President of the club’s board of directors.

John is only the fourth president in the

57-year history of the club, following W.G.

Stroecker (1963-2010), E. Chilton Hines

(2011-12) and Phil Prax (2013-14-15).

John is a graduate of Santa Clara University,

following in the footsteps of his

brother Kurt who was a first team allconference

ballplayer for the Broncos.

Kurt enjoyed a three-year pro career after

being drafted by the Boston Red Sox

in 1971. He had also been drafted out of

high school by the Kansas City Royals.

John and Kurt’s father Jack was a major league baseball infielder for the New

York Giants (1947-51) and Philadelphia Phillies (1952-53). On July 3 1956,

Jack played an exhibition game in Fairbanks as a member of the Seattle Rainiers.

Jack went 1-for-3 in the game, which saw the professional Rainiers defeat

the Fairbanks All-Stars 18-14. The local club was led offensively by Charlie Cole,

longtime Chairman of the Goldpanners Board of Directors. Following his baseball

career Jack retired as the head of Lockheed Corporation’s head of security.

John first came to Alaska in 1980 to work for the North Pole Nicks (1980-

87) summer ballclub as an administrative assistant. From there, he ascended

to the General Manager position, a role he held through the 1987

season. During his tenure with the club, the Nicks finished second at the National

Baseball Congress World Series. Twenty-six players from those club

ascended to the major leagues, including Mark Grace and Luis Gonzales.

Later, John served as President of the

Kenai Peninsula Oilers Board of Directors

(1999-01). The 1999 Oilers became

John’s second club to reach the championship

game of the NBC World Series. During

his stay in the Kenai Peninsula, John

assumed the General Manager position

at Seekin’s Ford in Soldotna. In 2002, he

moved to the Interior of Alaska in a management

role at Seekin’s Ford, Fairbanks.

When asked about the prospects for the 55th

season in Growden Memorial Park John

said, “I’m very excited to continue my love for

baseball with the most prestigious and wellknown

semi-pro baseball team in the country.“

All-Time Board of Directors List

Name Joined Departed Name Joined Departed

Bill Ackiss

Cynthia Adams

John Luther Adams

Steve Agbaba

Terry Aldridge

Russ Amerson

Brad Amundson

Roger Anderson

Lenny Arsenault

Davy Daldwin

Carroll Barber

Jason Barnebey

Dan Barrett

Cliff Batye

Dr. James Beckley

Ben Bennett

Bob Bloom

Bill Boggess

H.A. (Red) Boucher

H.A. (Red) Boucher

Heida Boucher

Mark Boyer

Tom Brice

Lee Bridgeman

Mark Browning

Andy Brice

Don Bruce

Lloyd Burgess

Fred R. Burnett

Wally Burnett

John Butrovich

Harold Byrd

Ricky Campbell

Phil Carboy

Ernie Carter

Ed Carroway

Wally Cathcart III

Jack Clowers

Dean Clowers

Charles Cole

Eric Cooper

Al Collins

George Craft

Bill Creighton

Chuck Culver

Sheena Cummings

Hap Currington

Chris Custer

Frank Danner

Bob Davis

Ron Davis

Frank DeLong

John Denning

Don Dennis

Steve Dennis

Todd Dennis

Jim Desmond

Jim Dieringer

Jim Dixon

Robert Dixon

Larry Dotson

Bob Douglass

Bob Downes

Bob Downes

Jim Eidenmiller

Joe Eisenmenger

Gerald Evans

Rodney Evans

Christoph Falke

Virginia Farmier

Judge Vern Forbes

Gerald Finley

Kevin Fitzgerald

Al Fleetwood

Joe Franich

Robert Francis

Paul Gavora

Kevin Ginley

John Glidden

Conrad Gonzalez

Les Gray

Dale Green

Les Gunderson

B.J. Hall

Dave Hall

Bob Hardin

Col. Ken Haycraft

Jim Hayes

Greg Hemminger

Ken Henry

Hank Heuvel

Al Hines

E. Chilton Hines

Lynn Hines

Bud Hollowell

Don Hoover

Bill Hutchinson

Jim Jasperson

03/14/73

05/12/02

05/12/02

04/12/67

05/01/92

10/12/77

05/01/92

05/20/81

03/05/80

05/22/11

03/17/86

05/13/09

03/05/80

05/08/07

09/20/66

04/22/81

03/10/71

04/17/68

05/28/63

11/29/89

06/21/69

06/17/87

06/17/97

03/07/01

05/07/08

07/22/83

12/01/71

05/06/65

05/28/63

05/28/63

05/31/66

02/15/67

05/10/12

06/03/70

05/28/63

05/21/65

03/12/75

05/26/82

05/01/92

05/28/63

08/27/13

04/12/67

03/10/71

03/20/74

03/30/83

05/07/08

05/04/77

05/08/07

04/05/66

03/10/71

03/29/67

04/06/77

05/07/08

01/31/68

05/12/92

04/07/01

07/31/66

06/09/82

05/13/09

05/28/63

05/13/09

05/01/92

03/05/80

04/16/16

05/22/11

03/12/69

04/05/65

05/07/14

05/10/12

05/26/10

03/22/67

04/05/65

05/08/07

03/22/67

05/28/63

05/12/92

03/22/67

05/08/07

05/09/86

06/09/09

05/27/70

04/07/65

01/19/72

02/28/86

7/11/2013

03/13/74

05/21/65

06/07/91

04/16/16

04/17/74

04/14/76

04/26/89

02/17/95

02/17/95

03/18/81

04/07/77

03/12/75

04/18/79

1974

2008

2008

1970

2016

2008

1995

1982

1991

ACTIVE

2012

ACTIVE

1980

2008

1980

1981

1973

1968

1972

2009

HON.

1995

2006

2004

2010

1987

1992

1969

1963

2012

1978

1995

2015

1980

1968

1967

1975

1984

1996

2016

2015

1967

1980

1981

1995

2010

1977

2009

1970

2000

1976

1982

ACTIVE

2015

1998

2016

1969

2015

ACTIVE

1963

ACTIVE

ACTIVE

2001

ACTIVE

ACTIVE

1973

1969

ACTIVE

ACTIVE

ACTIVE

1969

1967

2015

1972

1978

2010

1972

2012

1990

2013

1971

1965

1980

2014

ACTIVE

1977

1982

2003

ACTIVE

1977

1979

2009

2012

2015

1981

1980

1976

1981

Norm Jenkins

Shirley Jenkins

Carl Johnson

Martha Johnson

Stacey Joosse

Steve Karakash

Jim Kelly

Ed Kennedy

Jim Kimbal

Mark Klaich

Jane Knox

Barney Kopf

Julius Kornfeind

Walt Kozie

Eric Kuntz

Lee Lambert

Marc Langland

Marc Langland

Mike Lawless

Ed Lawrence

Ray Leach

Ted Lehne

Tony Licalsi

Dick Lobdell

John Lohrke

Rhonda Lohrke

A.J. Maestas

Robert Marcinkowski

Jack Markstrom

Harvey Marlin

Harvey Marlin III

Michael P. McConahy

Jon McCoy

Jim McNamee

Bob Meath

Ed Merdes

Ward Merdes

Ward Merdes

Tony Messina

Tom Miklautsch

Gene Miller

Mike Minsky

Harold Moles

Tom Moyer

Jack Murphy

Steve Nerland

Carl Noble

Ed Orbeck

Bill Pair

Steve Peek

Ed Perkowski

Mark Poole

Phil Prax

Lowell Purcell

Phil Ramos

Dale Rankin

Brian Rasley

Dave Rasley

Luella Rasley

Gretchen Ray

Dr. Joseph Ribar

Les Rogers

Doyle Ruff

Mort Schierhorn

Leo Schlotfeldt

Ralph Seekins

Mike Sfraga

Ryan Shaver

Steve Shaver

Harris Shelton

Jack Shuttleworth

C.W. Snedden

Duane Snedden

Dr. Bryce Stallard

Rod Stephens

Steve Stephens

Mike Stepovich

Mike Stepovich III

Nick Stepovich

John Stein

Dave Stewart

Shirley Stewart

Bill Stroecker

Jay Sullivan

Tim Sullivan

Dave Swanson

Danny Thomas

Sean Timmons

L.K. Virgin

Nate Voegeli

Bob Vogt

Dick Ward

Bill Waugaman

Emmitt Wilson

Sam Woodke

Dale Woody

Dale Yoder

Chris Zachgo

02/28/86

02/28/86

07/01/95

07/12/89

04/16/16

04/07/65

03/24/76

03/25/70

05/13/09

02/23/72

05/01/92

03/09/67

11/02/77

03/10/71

05/07/08

11/11/81

02/28/73

01/30/80

05/26/10

05/11/84

02/05/69

03/26/69

07/22/83

03/20/74

04/14/04

05/07/14

05/26/10

05/26/10

04/28/65

04/28/65

04/18/79

08/27/13

05/07/08

03/22/67

04/06/77

03/22/67

05/08/92

05/13/09

03/19/68

04/05/65

01/24/68

05/20/87

07/01/81

07/15/87

01/24/68

03/24/76

05/06/83

06/07/63

01/30/80

05/07/08

05/04/77

05/09/86

03/07/01

05/01/92

03/18/81

03/26/75

05/07/03

05/20/81

05/13/09

05/07/03

04/05/65

03/16/77

06/15/84

12/07/77

05/08/65

03/28/79

06/24/87

05/10/12

05/07/15

05/14/82

03/10/71

05/28/63

03/27/68

03/24/80

05/07/08

03/14/73

05/28/63

05/25/84

08/27/13

05/13/81

03/10/71

05/13/09

05/28/63

07/12/78

05/09/86

11/04/81

03/17/76

05/08/07

03/29/67

03/16/01

03/06/68

01/24/68

04/05/65

04/12/67

04/18/79

03/12/75

03/12/75

05/10/12

FNSB Mayor Karl Kassel and Lohrke (Eric Engman/ News-Miner) 3

ACTIVE

ACTIVE

2004

1995

ACTIVE

1967

1980

1972

ACTIVE

1976

2007

1987

1995

1982

2014

1988

1977

1982

2010

1988

1975

1974

1995

1975

ACTIVE

ACTIVE

2012

ACTIVE

1966

1968

1983

ACTIVE

ACTIVE

1969

1987

1991

1995

2016

1978

1995

1976

2003

1991

2008

1987

1980

1995

1969

1981

ACTIVE

1978

1991

ACTIVE

2000

1981

1995

ACTIVE

2009

2009

ACTIVE

1966

1995

1987

1980

1971

1991

1990

2012

ACTIVE

1992

1987

1967

1990

1980

2010

2010

1967

1987

ACTIVE

1987

1973

2015

2010

1981

1988

2010

1981

ACTIVE

1969

2004

1970

1969

1969

1972

2010

1978

1980

2015


2015: A Peek at Baseball in Alaska

4

Playing at the top of the World

By Tom Hardesty

FAIRBANKS, Alaska — Brian Lees is standing near the

home dugout at Growden Memorial Park, amused as he

watches some of his Alaska Goldpanner teammates employ

a bucket to try and catch a field mouse that has just

darted underneath a fence and into the stadium.

The mouse’s elusiveness brings a smile to Lees’ face, and

the Goldpanner catcher, who has just completed his sophomore

year at the University of Akron, is about to take the

bucket and do it himself when his teammates finally nab

the rodent and remove it from harm’s way.

The mouse has provided a brief diversion from pregame

preparations for that night’s Alaska Baseball League

game against the Peninsula Oilers, which is still several

hours from first pitch. But in a strange way, the mouse has

done its small part in helping the Goldpanners come just

a little closer together as a team — some of the players

having just arrived at the stadium for the first time in their

lives earlier in the day.

It’s late June, and Lees has already been in Alaska for a

couple weeks. But he still barely knows many of the players

he will be spending nearly every day with for the rest

of the summer.

“It’s very different,” said Lees, the Great Mouse Caper

having reached a favorable conclusion, “but this is a great

opportunity. I couldn’t pass it up.”

Lees, like every other Goldpanner, has journeyed to Alaska

in hopes of catching the eye of a Major League Baseball

scout. The six teams in the Alaska Baseball League

are comprised primarily of collegiate players seeking an

opportunity to showcase their abilities against some of the

best amateur talent the United States has to offer.

They have from June to August to get a foot in the MLB

door, roughly 50 games to hone their skills and polish their

craft enough to either be drafted (if they aren’t already),

sign a free-agent contract or be invited back to the Goldpanners

for another go-round the next summer.

LIFE IN FAIRBANKS

In winter, the temperature in Fairbanks generally hovers

around 15 to 25 below, but the thermometer can dip to 60,

sometimes even 75 degrees, below zero. The snowpack

in and around the central Alaska city of 32,000 hardy souls

usually blankets the ground from October to May, forcing

residents to contend with deep snow and biting cold the

majority of the year.

“Some areas could have five or six feet of snow, easy,”

said Rodney Evans, a member of the Goldpanners’ Board

of Directors and a lifelong Fairbanks resident. “Highways

will be closed down because the winds cause drifting.

You’ve just got to be prepared for the cold.”

Evans is sitting in the first row of seats behind home plate

at Growden Memorial Park, which happens to be the

northern-most baseball stadium on Earth. It’s nearly nine

o’clock at night, but the sun is still high in the sky at this

latitude as the Goldpanners do battle with the Oilers, their

ABL rivals from the southern part of the state. It’s a balmy

summer evening in Fairbanks, with fans in attendance

sporting sunglasses, T-shirts, shorts and flip-flops.

With the heat and mosquitoes, you would think you were

in the southeastern United States rather than near the top

of the world. “You learn to adjust during winter,” said Evans.

“You always cover your face and don’t leave any skin

exposed or you’ll get frostbite. You dress in layers.”

There’s something else residents must battle in winter —

something, in many ways, more difficult to handle than

the blowing snow and numbing cold. “Darkness,” said

Evans. “In the winter time it never really gets completely

light out. When the sun comes up in the morning, all you

see is a little sliver of light. And then it’s down again.

“Some people have trouble adjusting to it.” Still, a large

number of native Fairbanksians wouldn’t — maybe couldn’t

— live anywhere else. “It’s my home,” said Evans.

It’s against this wintry backdrop of a city gripped much of

the year by snow, ice and frigid temperatures that some

of baseball’s greatest players have gotten their jumpstart

to the professional ranks. And far beyond.

BASEBALL AT THE TOP OF THE WORLD

Growden Memorial Park has a charm all its own. Rolling,

forested foothills serve as a dramatic backdrop in the

distance beyond the outfield fence, providing a sweeping

panorama of the remote central Alaskan landscape.

Growden also features towering light standards, but

lights are rarely necessary for Goldpanner games because,

well, it really doesn’t get dark in Alaska during

the summer. The sun simply circles the top of the planet,

setting just long enough on the western horizon to leave

behind the orange glow of dusk while daybreak simultaneously

lights up the sky in the east.

The net result is never-ending daylight in the summer

months. In fact, the Goldpanners are famous for their

“Midnight Sun Game,” played in Fairbanks on the summer

solstice every year since 1960. The game starts at

10:30 p.m. and ends around 1:30 a.m. — no lights necessary

— and receives national press coverage.

“The biggest thing I had to get used to was the daylight,”

said Lees. “The sun gives you so much energy. Since

it’s always light out, you don’t realize how late it’s getting

sometimes. You’re just up doing things and you don’t

realize how late it’s getting. It took me about a week to

get used to it.”

Growden Memorial Park, though, is much more than a

quaint baseball stadium located a mere 120 miles south

of the Arctic Circle. It’s a real-life field of dreams for college

players looking to impress the Major League scouts

that are often in attendance at ABL games.

In fact, on this night a scout from the Los Angeles Angels

is sitting in the stands directly behind the plate, armed

with a notebook and radar gun. “They’ve had a lot of

players from this team make it to the Major Leagues over

the years,” said Lees. “Guys can really further their careers

by playing here.”

They certainly can. The impressive list of players who

have worn the Goldpanner uniform reads like a Major

League All-Star team. Assistant coach Billy Sample

played major-league ball with the Rangers, Yankees

and Braves in the 1970s and ’80s, batting .272 over the

course of his nine-year career.

Sample was brought to Fairbanks this season to instruct

the Goldpanner hitters — and also dabble in a little public-relations

work, sporting a wide smile and gentle laugh

as he greeted fans at the gate as they filed into the park

for the evening’s game against the Oilers.

Sample seems to be on a first-name basis with many

of them, some stopping to chat briefly with him before

heading to their seats. It’s baseball at its roots. It’s the

way the game was meant to be. It’s a slice of pastoral

Americana in the harsh sub-arctic northland.

FITTING IN WITH BASEBALL ROYALTY

You would expect success with the kind of talent that

has dotted the Goldpanners’ roster over the decades,

and you would be right: The Goldpanners have won 29

league championships since their inception in 1960.

They have also captured the National Baseball Congress

title six times.

It’s a rich heritage, and the Goldpanners are proud of it.

Before trophies can be hoisted, however, players must

first adjust to their foreign environment. In a very real

sense, playing for the Goldpanners is something of a

baseball boot camp. The players are thousands of miles

from home; they are put up for the summer by families

in the Fairbanks area; their teammates and coaches are

total strangers; and they travel to their games by bus

across Alaska’s vast expanses, some trips taking as long

as nine hours as they wind through some of the most

spectacular mountain and glacier scenery on Earth.

Brian Lees (Tom Hardesty)

FEELING AT HOME

Go north of Fairbanks, and you almost

instantly enter desolate wilderness that

stretches for hundreds of miles. There is

almost no road system leading north out of

Alaska’s third-largest city, save for a remote

two-lane stretch that becomes the famed

Dalton Highway, a dirt-and-gravel route that

snakes north through the tundra all the way

to the Arctic Ocean.

In other words, Fairbanks is one of the most

isolated cities in the United States. In fact,

the latitude where it sits on the globe is so

far north that it is almost completely uninhabited

planet-wide. Yet Fairbanks, home

to the University of Alaska, is like any other

college town in the country. Almost.

“I didn’t know what to expect when I got

here,” said Lees, a Cleveland-area native

who graduated from Brunswick High School.

“You watch shows like Alaskan Bush People

and all that and you think that’s all that’s

here, and then I get here and it’s not like

that at all. There’s grocery stores and everything

just like at home. “I definitely was

impressed with what’s here. It’s not what everyone

thinks Alaska is.”

Indeed, while Fairbanks is nestled deep in

the Alaskan frontier, it has all the trappings

of middle America. It features a large, stateof-the

art cinema on the main drag through

town, pizza shops, the usual fast-food restaurants,

various shopping plazas, a gourmet

coffee shack seemingly in every parking

lot, and even an international airport.

Just enough creature comforts to keep a

Midwesterner such as Lees feeling right at

home. In fact, almost too at home despite

the four-hour time difference from Alaska to

Ohio. “I forget that sometimes,” he smiled.

“I’ll grab my phone and start to text someone,

and realize there’s no one there to text

because they’re already in bed.”

At the end of the day, though, it’s all about

baseball for Lees and his Goldpanner teammates

— and the hope that playing it in perhaps

the most unique setting in all of sports

will go a long way toward making their bigleague

dreams come true.

Like it has for so many before them.

“I’m getting to play with guys from some

of the top college programs in the country,

schools like Pepperdine, UC Irvine, Arizona

State,” said Lees. “This league is one of the

top five in the country. It’s good competition.

It’s challenging as a hitter because you’re

facing a top-tier pitcher all the time, so you’ve

got to be at the top of your game all the time.

It’s just been a real good experience.”

Tom Hardesty, For the Record-Courier

Kent, Ohio

Twitter: @TomHardestyRC

Facebook: Tom Hardesty, Record-Courier


2016: Our 57th Season

Return to Independent Barnstorming Schedule

The 2016 season is a return to roots for the

Goldpanners. For the first time since the early

1970s, the club is playing an entirely independent

schedule. Due to an overlap between the Alaska

Baseball League post-season and the National

Baseball Congress World Series, the Panners

have elected to focus attention on the tournament.

Consequently, all Outside competition in 2016 is

comprised of teams affiliated with the National

Baseball Congress.

The season begins in Seattle as the Panners face

the Seattle Studs for a four-game series in Tacoma.

The Studs were in Fairbanks in 2015 for

the Midnight Sun Series, with all games being won

by the Goldpanners including the 110th Midnight

Sun Game. Following their stay in Fairbanks the

Studs went on a spectacular run, eventually claiming

the crown of the N.B.C. World Series.

Once in Fairbanks, the Goldpanners will host the

Kenai Peninsula Oilers of the Alaska Baseball

League in the Midnight Sun Series. The highlight

of this series will be the 111th Midnight Sun Game

on June 21st.

After the Oilers series Fairbanks will host the San

Diego Barona Stars for a seven-game matchup.

The Panners last faced the Stars in the 2013 Barona

Bash Inviational Tournament. Fairbanks was

victorious in the game and also in the tournament,

coming out on top for their first of three titles on

the year.

Starting July 4th, the Goldpanners will take on the

San Francisco Seals, another of the top independent

teams in N.B.C. play. Finally, the Everett

Merchants will return to Fairbanks for the final series

of the season.

Tim Kelly returns to Fairbanks for his sixth season

and second as Field Mananger. In 1985, Kelly led

the ABL champion Goldpanners all the way to the

World Series in Wichita, Kansas. Prior to that, he

was a pitcher and coach on the 1980 club, which

dominated all competition and ultimately ran away

with the N.B.C. championship. Tim was also

the pitching coach for the 2012, 2013 and 2015

clubs.

Player profiles are found on the following pages.

TIM KELLY ON GROWDEN MEMORIAL PARK

“I would like to provide an outside perspective

to the issue of Growden Park. Most citizens of

Fairbanks can’t possibly know the position your

city holds in the baseball world. Getting an opportunity

to play for the Goldpanners as a college

player is like playing for the Yankees or the Dodgers,

teams that have over the decades been at

the top. If you were a Goldpanner you knew you

were competing at the highest level of amateur

baseball there was. Baseball legends and countless

major leaguers played in Fairbanks. Getting

to go to Fairbanks, Alaska to play is an incredible

opportunity and validates your baseball pedigree.

Playing in your city is the goal for college players.

I have played, coached and managed for the

Goldpanners. I helped the Panners win the NBC

National Championship. The name Fairbanks

Goldpanners is magic to baseball fans throughout

the Lower 48 and they flock to see your team

play. Virtually every baseball player in Fairbanks

plays in that ballpark. It is the baseball beacon

in faraway Alaska and deserves to continue.”

TIM KELLY JAMIE SLUYS TYLER SLOAN

For 35 years, Tim Kelly has been

a pitching coach and scout. He

was the pitching coach for six

years at ASU as the Sun Devils

won the 1981 College World Series

in his first season.

Kelly also worked at the highest

levels in the scouting departments

of the California Angels

and Los Angeles Dodgers after

his run at Arizona State.

This brilliant man, who once attended

Stanford University, was

the hottest pitching coach in the

nation in the early 1980s for ASU

under Head Coach Jim Brock

Jamie Sluys of Auburn, WA returns

to Fairbanks for his third

season. First on hand as an

assistant to Jim Dietz in 2012,

Jamie rejoined the organization

in 2015, and was named Head

Coach. This season, Jamie will

fill the role of Associate Head

Coach.

Sluys has had a distinguished career

as a player, as a Head Coach,

and as an Athletic Director. Jamie

is currently the Athletic Director

and Head Baseball Coach

at Muckleshoot High School -- a

role he also held while at Northwest

Indian College.

Tyler Sloan joins the coaching

staff following a pitching career

in the Cal-State system. While

at San Bernadino he was named

CCAA All-Academic. He also

pitched for Santa Ana during

two season under Tim Kelly. In

2014, Tyler was 7-1 with a 3.06

ERA with 40 strikeouts. That

season he helped the Dons win

the 2014 Orange Empire League

title, and was named the recipient

of the Tim Boomer McConnon

Award. Tyler earned his

AA in liberal arts and American

studies. He is now working on a

degree in communications.

1980 ALASKA GOLDPANNERS OF FAIRBANKS

LIVE BROADCASTS AT FACEBOOK.COM/GOLDPANNERS

PITCHING COACH TIM KELLY (#9); FIELD MGR BEN HINES (#36)

5


Joe Fernandez returns to Fairbanks following a

successful season for the Georgetown Tigers.

In 2015, Joe was the ace of the Panner pitching

staff, tied for the team lead with four victories.

In 50.2 innings pitched for the club, he had 51

strikeouts and only allowed 12 earned runs, finishing

the season with a 2.13 ERA.

During the 2016 collegiate season, the lefthander

tossed a complete-game shutout with

10 strikeouts and only two hits, leading the Tigers

to a 5-0 victory on February 5th.

Joe hails from Whittier, California. Now in his

junior year, the 6-foot moundsman will look to

mow down the opposition for the Goldpanners

in 2016.

By the numbers the southpaw starter will be a

valuable asset. In 66.1 innings of work in college

ball this season he has held opposing batters to

a mere .197 average. He’s sat down 90 hitters

by strikeout, holds a 3.66 ERA, and has only allowed

3 homers despite facing 287 batters.

Alex Torson is another pitcher returning from last

year’s team. As a true freshman joining the club

mid-season, he was called upon to carry an enormous

role on the pitching staff. Alex made giant

strides in his game, though he struggled to find

consistency in the middle innings. Starting all

seven games in which he appeared, Torson managed

29.2 innings pitched, winding up with a 3.65

ERA and four losses.

The right-handed starter from Lower Columbia

College has since developed a knack for winning

ball games. He was never on the losing side

through 12 starts in 2015, finishing with a record

of 8-0. All the while he had a 2.82 ERA through 70

innings pitched.

Torson was the starting pitcher for LCC in the

NWAC championship game on May 30th. He

nursed a one-hitter before being lifted in the

sixth. “Alex did a really good job,” coach Eddie

Smith said following a 6-1 loss in the game. “He’s

done some amazing things for this program, and

he’s a competitor.”

Nathan Bannister is another pitcher set to return

to Fairbanks in 2016, although his great success

will likely delay his arrival. Nathan anchored the

ABL champion pitching staff in 2013, dominating

all competition en route to being named to the

ABL all-star team. Overall, he compiled a perfect

record of seven wins to no losses. His contribution

was critical in all three of the 2013 Goldpanners’

regular-season and post-season championships.

For the University of Arizona Wildcats Bannister

has been a picture of versatility. The right-hander

sported a 9-2 record during the 2016 regular season,

riding a 2.72 ERA heading into post-season

play. His .201 opponent’s batting average was the

best among Arizona pitchers that have at least 15

innings.

Still in post-season play as of press time, Nathan

has already pitched a key victory, throwing seven

shutout innings as Arizona beat Sam Houston State

7-3 in the Lafayette Region opener on June 3rd.

Bannister (10-2) earned the victory, allowing four

hits, striking out four and walking three.

Catcher Ty Johnson is one of the many signed players

lost prior to the start of a season. Though officially

members of the club by having signed an exclusive

contract, hundreds of Panners have never

appeared in a single game.

The most common reason is advancement into

baseball’s pro ranks. The MLB Player Draft annually

draws numerous Goldpanners into the next

level of the game. Examples of players lost to the

draft prior to appearing are: Wally Backman, Scott

Bradley , Sid Bream, Greg Brock, Steve Busby, Joe

Carter, David Clyde, Doug Henry, Jason Kendall, Tim

Loller, Steve Lyons, Brad Radke, Cesar Ramos, Dick

Ruthven, Greg Swindell, Jon Switzer, Greg Vaughn,

and Bobby Witt. In 1983, the national runner-up

Panners lost all of their signed pitchers from the

University of Texas: Mike Capel, Roger Clemens,

and Calvin Schiraldi.

Tanner Negrette is a junior from Azusa Pacific

University who specializes in the middle infield.

Before joining Azusa, Negrette played ball for Cal

State Stanislaus and Santa Ana Community College.

At APU, the 6-foot-1 right-hander is a junior

majoring in Kinesiology.

During the 2016 season, Tanner appeared in 20

games, starting 15. In 49 at-bats he struck out

nine times, while tallying eight hits, a double,

and five RBI. His summer in Fairbanks will assist

in his role as a starting middle infielder.

Tanner played two years of varsity baseball at

Pacifica High School in Garden Grove, CA. His

senior year he led Pacifica to a CIF-SS Division II

championship.

Kevin Connolly is a solid hitter known for his gritty

“Charlie Hustle” style of play in the outfield.

Following his senior season at Creighton Prep,

Kevin was named the ESPN Nebraska preseason

all-state and preseason Rawlings All-American.

During the 2012 season he hit .410, with 34 runs,

41 RBI, 20 walks, 43 hits, and 16 stolen bases, nine

doubles, five home runs and three triples. Kevin

led Creighton Prep to the best record in school history

(34-4) and a state championship.

At Notre Dame in his freshman year of college,

Connolly exercised his redshirt option and did not

play. From there, he attended Seward Com. Col.,

hitting .411, ranking sixth in hits in the NJCAA. In

2016, Kevin played for Creighton University. The

right-handed hitter impressed with a .301 (47-for-

156) average, had 11 extra-base hits with 20 RBI.

6

Darryl Strawberry worked out with the 1980 Goldpanners,

but was unable to play due to legal issues.

Marv Owens and Marshall Faulk chose football.

Tanner is also being called-upon to serve as a

media representative for the dugout, so stay

tuned at facebook.com/Goldpanners

Connolly can play third base or outfield, adding

defensive versatility to his impressive baseball resume.


Damian Powers has high expectations heading into

this summer. A highly-touted junior pitcher known

for strikeouts, Damian will be using this summer to

develop both physically and mentally.

The 6-foot-4 right-hander from Williamsville, NY

has been absolutely devastating to opposing batters

throughout his career. Powers has struck out

163 batters over 176.1 innings pitched in three

seasons for Le Moyne College.

Starting 11 out of 12 games this spring, Powers had

105 strikeouts with only 25 walks, while holding opposing

hitters to a .239 average. He won four and

lost four over the course of 75.2 innings pitched.

Damian also pitched 2 complete games.

While at Williamsville South High School, Powers

played both baseball and basketball, utilizing his

above-average size. One goal of Damian’s this summer

will be to increase his upper-body development,

while focusing on even greater consistency

during his appearances.

Andy Weddle is a left-handed pitcher from Lindsey

Wilson, satellite school of the Santa Ana Dons

program of Goldpanners Don Sneddon, Tim Kelly,

Bryan Harris, and countless Alaska Goldpanners.

In 20 innings of work this spring, he crafted a 2.25

ERA, and tossed a shutout. After facing 89 batters,

Weddle allowed only five earned runs. Following

the season, Weddle, a junior from Whittier, CA,

received Academic All Mid-South Conference honors.

Previously, he pitched on the collegiate level for

UC Riverside and the Santa Ana Dons. While pitching

for the Dons, the 6-foot-5 lefty appeared in 11

games, winning three and losing six. He had 14

strikeouts in 49.2 innings pitched, with an ERA of

4.53.

Andy’s prep career was a LaSerna High School in

Whittier, also home of many previous Goldpanners.

He excelled as a student-athlete, earning a

3.8 GPA with a nearly-perfect SAT score of 1720.

Mitchell is an untapped two-way player from Palomar

College. He was used exclusively as a pitcher,

serving as both a starter and a reliever. Overall,

Hayes pitched 55 innings with a record of 6-2 and a

3.44 ERA. He was given honorable mention in the

All-Pacific Coast Athletic Conference team selections.

Hayes hails from Temecula, CA, where he played

prep ball at Great Oaks. In 2014, his club was the

21st ranked team in the nation. Hayes batted .405

as a junior with 26 runs scored, 24 RBI and five

home runs. He also pitched 6.2 innings with a 2.10

ERA. He earned second team All-CIF, second team

all-state and first team all-league accolades. “We

were able to sign a very physical two-way player in

Mitchell Hayes. He possesses a very good fastball

and curve ball, along with a powerful lefthanded

bat and solid defensive skills. Mitchell had an

outstanding junior season in the Southwestern

League, which was regarded as one of the toughest

high school conference in the country in 2014.”This

spring Mitch gained a scholarship to play NCAA

Division I baseball for the University of Nevada.

Justin Harrer is a right-handed infielder for the

Washington State University Cougars. In 2016 as a

true freshman, Justin out-performed expectations,

which is rare for such a young athlete.

Justin’s prep career was at Sisters High School in

Sisters, OR. There he was a four-year letterwinner

in baseball and soccer, and a three-year winner

in basketball. He earned All-State first-team

honors as a sophomore and second-team honors

as a junior. In his senior year he was named the

4A State Player of the Year and Sky-Em Player of

the Year. That season, he hit .557 with 12 home

runs, 13 doubles and 62 RBI. Following the season

he was honorably named to the Perfect Game All-

American West team.

Harrer has already been selected in the Major

League Baseball Draft. In 2015, Justin was selected

in the 18th round of the draft by the San Diego Padres.

Austin Atwell is right-handed outfielder for Lindsey

Wilson, and hails from Clarksville, Tennessee.

In 2016, Austin played in 59 games while starting

52. In 179 at-bats he tallied 62 hits with 11 doubles,

a triple, and ten home runs for a .346 batting

average. He also had 44 RBI and 21 BB.

As a junior at Western Carolina in 2015, Austin

played in 33 games in left field. During the season

he put together an 11-game hitting streak from

late-April through mid-May.

Prior to Western Carolina, Atwell played at Columbia

State University, where he hit .335 as a

sophomore. He finished the season with 35 RBI

in helping the club to the conference and region

championship.

At Rossview High School, Austin set the Montgomery

County home run record with 14. He also

ranked inside his high school’s top 10 in career RBI

in a single season with 65 as a senior.

Derek Bontempo is a junior outfielder out of Bellevue

University. The right-handed hitter previously

played for Tacoma Community College and Decatur

High School.

On March 19 of this year Derek helped Bellevue

win two games against Clarke, 4-2 and 5-4. They

won another game the next day at Briar Cliff, 12-1.

The first game against Clarke was tied 2-2 going

into the bottom of the ninth, and Derek hit a

tworun home run to win the contest. Bontempo

went 3-for-5 with three RBI for the game. With a

batting average of .408, 10 home runs, and 69 RBI

in 2016, Derek certainly lives up to the image of a

Bellevue Bruin. The hard-hitting right handed outfielder

from Washington made First Team All-NSAA

this year.

Bontempo is a graduate of the Big League Edge

Performance Baseball academy founded by Jim

Parque. 7


1960: Goldpanners Adopt Midnight Sun Game Tradition

World Famous Event Enriched by Future Major League Ballplayers

The Midnight Sun Game tradition dates back to the earliest days

of Fairbanks, Alaska. During the winter of 1905/06, two local pubs

bet bragging rights for the entire winter (plus a few incidentals) on

the outcome of the game. From there, the novelty of the event led

to outsiders being imported to take on the Fairbanks team. In the

first year of operation for the Goldpanners ball club, Red Boucher

recognized the novelty of the promotion, and the opportunity the

game offered to represent Fairbanks to the outside world.

BASEBALL’S MOST NATURAL PROMOTION

For over a century, a special baseball game has annually been held

in Fairbanks, Alaska on June 21st. On the longest day of each year

(with a full 24 hours of daylight in the vast Tanana Valley), Fairbanksans

celebrate the coming of summer with the playing of this traditional

game - which continues through the midnight hour and never uses

artificial lights. With Fairbanks a mere 150 miles south of the Arctic

Circle, the sun is just beginning to set in the North as the game of

baseball gets under way and, at its conclusion some three hours later,

the sun begins to rise again - also in the North.

It is a phenomenon ever so rare.

History of the Midnight Sun Series

Among the list of all-time championships listed on page 2, one important

statistic of success is missing - wins in the Midnight Sun Series.

Prior to 1963, the Midnight Sun Game was typically a one-off exhibition

between local clubs. However, the success of the Goldpanners in the National

Baseball Congress World Series in 1962 brought greater exposure

to the event. From that point forward, competition was easy to find and

import from Outside. With the cost of air travel as expensive as it is, it

makes sense to play a full series of games, to be highlighted by the midnight

ballgame. This is the Midnight Sun Series.

The “high noon at midnight” baseball game originated in Fairbanks in

1906. Every year since then it has been the ritual to play the game on

the solstice. Never once has artificial lighting been used for this unique

event, and only once in history (following the death of Bill Stroecker)

has the game been delayed because of darkness.

The Alaska Goldpanners baseball club, founded by World War II

veteran H.A. “Red” Boucher, adopted the Midnight Sun Game in

their first year of competition. The year was 1960, and Boucher led

the Goldpanners to a 11-0 victory over the Fairbanks Pioneers. The

Goldpanners have hosted the tradition every year since then. As

part of the annual celebration, the game is stopped at the half-inning

closest to midnight for the singing of the Alaska Flag Song.

Over the years, the W.G. & Eddie Stroecker Midnight Sun Game has

taken on a significance greater than that of any other team tradition

in sports. There is certainly no other team in baseball that hosts a

tradition as old. The famed World Series itself - which is the promotion

of no single team - is but three years older than the annual solstice

classic in Fairbanks.

Due to its novelty, the Midnight Sun Game has enjoyed wide

popularity. Baseball America called it one of the “12 Must See

Events for the Baseball Fan”. ESPN Magazine selected the Midnight

Sun Game as the Number One Destination for the “2010 Baseball Road

Trip”. GQ Magazine dubbed the tradition one of “86 Reasons to be

proud to be an American”, and in 2012 Yankees Magazine called the

event “Baseball’s Most Natural Promotion”. For Fairbanksans, the game

is a way to reflect on the passing of another year, and the survival of

another long winter.

In 1963, the first Midnight Sun Series opponent was the reigning national

champion Wichita Dreamliners. The midnight event was held as part

of a full series of seven games. The previous August, the Dreamliners

had beaten the Panners in the national championship game. Though the

Dreamliners continued their success against Fairbanks by winning the

series four games to two, a good time was had by all. A new era in the

tradition had been successfully launched.

From that year forward, an impressive array of competition was imported,

comprised of top teams from around the state, nation, and world.

1964: Sam Suplizio ‘67: Bill Seinsoth v. Japan 1972: Stanford’s Ray Young

73 : Bruce Robinson v. BYU 74: Bobo Brayton, Moss, Dietz 1995: Jacob Freeman v. San Fran. Seals

SallyAnn Thibedeau

8

Midnight Sun Series vs. Japan. Red Boucher, Bill Lee, Yasuo Fujitsu, and MGR Masayuki Furuta

Grew up in AK and HI, made a pitstop

in CO to get my degree and make a few

friends. Now I’m living in the big NYC.

Singer, model, actress, adventurer

Set for M.S.G. Return in 2016


BASEBALL USED TO REBUILD FAIRBANKS SPIRIT FOLLOWING FIRE OF 1906

“PLAY BALL” IN THE

MIDNIGHT SUN

The history of the W.G. & Eddie

Stroecker Midnight Sun Game

revolves around the city of Fairbanks,

Alaska, and its unique dedication to

the sport of baseball.

From its earliest days as a gold

rush camp, Fairbanks has had

an almost religious devotion to

the sport of baseball. As will be

seen, one cannot tell the story

of the game without the city, nor

that of the city without the game.

Fairbanks was established -- through

providence or sheer chance -- as a

base of commercial operations in

1901. When gold was discovered

by Felix Pedro the following year,

the local population began to grow

significantly. As one might expect,

the culture that arrived was mix of

prospectors and adventurers, bringing

many scoundrels and law men to the

Tanana Valley of Central Alaska.

For four years, Fairbanks was booming

thanks to continuing gold strikes in

the surrounding valleys. Between

1903 and 1905, the gold take coming

from Fairbanks grew from $40K to

$6 million dollars annually. The

freewheeling spirit that typified the

entirety of the earlier gold rush era

embedded itself completely in the

camp of Fairbanks -- which became

the final destination in that illustrious

and infamous period in the history of

the American West.

Baseball emerged as a highly popular

form of recreation, and competition

was vigorous. Large sums of money

were routinely wagered on single

plays. With only so many ways for a

newly rich man to throw his money

around the community in those

reckless days, it is easy to imagine

how culturally significant those

early games really were.

From the very beginning,

Fairbanks’ love of baseball unified

its community spirit. No event

demonstrates the importance of

baseball in Fairbanks’ early days

more than the very first midnight

sun baseball contest.

In the spring of 1906, sawdustinsulated

wood buildings along the

Chena River broke into flames. The

entire population sprung into action

to save the chief commerical depot

of the gold trade. Without enough

water pressure to adequately fight

the fire, the Northern Commercial

Company thought to burn 2,000

pounds of bacon in its boilers.

RECOVERING FROM

CATASTROPHE

The Great Fire of Fairbanks broke

during the last week of May in 1906.

The blaze devastated commerce

related to the gold trade. Instead of

allowing this dreadful blow to cripple

the town’s morale, immediate

plans were made to rebuild. In

the most critical moment of the

life of Fairbanks, the community

determined to survive. It was at this

time that the gold camp became a

true frontier town.

Within a month, the entire population

built a new life on top of the ashes

of the old. This quick success

made the arrival of summer a

time of great celebration. Local

hero Eddie Stroecker organized a

special midnight “base ball” game

to commemorate the longest day

of the year. Apparently, the fire

110TH MIDNIGHT SUN GAME

PICS BY DUANE NELSON

relocated itself into the competition

of the athletes and the rowdiness of

the fans.

“Fully 1,500 people were present

and there has never been

such hooting at a local game.”

June 22, 1906

The spectacle electrified

Fairbanksans with a sense of

accomplishment and a renewed

hope for the future. Baseball saw

continued enthusiasm through the

remainder of season. From that

time forward, the midnight game

became a standard of Fairbanks

summer life.

For the first decade of the tradition,

vigorous contests were held

between town teams. Local clubs

- such as founding host California

Bar - battled for supremacy at

midnight under the watchful eye of

Old Sol. Winning the wildly popular

game bought the victors bragging

rights throughout the entire Arctic

winter.

During this early era, local prospector

and California Club bartender Ed

Stroecker was the towering player

and promoter. He was called “Dad

Stroecker” in his playing days, and

“The Grand Old Man” afterwards.

A poem with that title recalls his

mythic stature. To observers, the

greatness of his community standing

was matched only by the ferocity of

his athleticism. So noted the local

paper:

“Ed Stroecker, the daddy of them all

in the game at Fairbanks today, will

be in uniform, which means that there

will be plenty of ginger in the play.

If Stroecker doesn’t get the players

and the fans enthused it will be

because they haven’t got it in them.”

June 21, 1916

(cont. on page 26)

Eddie Stroecker, driving force behind the first Midnight Sun Game.

Son William G. Stroecker, President of

Goldpanners organization for 48 seasons


10

Fairbanks Pipeline to the Big Time

Over 200 Program Graduates in Major League Baseball

H.A. “Red” Boucher was a pioneer in numerous fields. In summer

baseball, Boucher recognized the quality of the amateur athlete,

noting in 1960 that “collegiate baseball is becoming a viable source

for major league talent.” By forming a roster comprised solely of

amateur players - utilizing no professional or semi-pros, as was the

custom of the day - Red paved the way for collegiate baseball to

become the direct route to the major league it is today.

Among the roughly 1,500 players and coaches to have donned a

Goldpanners uniform through the 2015 season, hundreds have

continued their careers into professional baseball, with 204 having

made it all the way to the pinnacle of professional baseball in Major

League Baseball.

There is perhaps no better way to measure the success that the

Alaska Goldpanners program has attained over the years than by

the number of players they have sent to the professional ranks and

the major leagues. The Goldpanners have so many players in the

bigs this season in fact, that they could conceivably field a competitive

club on the major league level of ex-players alone.

Many explanations for the immense success of Goldpanners alumni

can be offered, but perhaps the easiest explanation is the intense

conditioning only baseball in Alaska can provide. Raising the overall

demands - physical as well as mental - upon a person teaches

them how to deal with adversity and raise the intensity of their approach.

All Sourdoughs are familiar with this phenomenon. Panner

athletes are taken far from home, and are expected to perform

every day of the week against top-notch competition (unlike the

collegiate season, which plays only on weekends). Mix in the ruggedness

of the Alaskan experience, and the athlete is forced to find

a previously unapproached level of mental and physical discipline

in order to succeed.

A number of Goldpanners are also ascending to the top of the

game in MLB front offices. Including players and personnel, there

were four Panners on the 2015 world champion Kansas City Royals.

The advancement seen by Goldpanner alums in the ranks of

MLB personnel is an exciting recent development. Securing such

high-ranking, off-field MLB personnel positions is at least as much

an accomplishment as achieving an on-field roster spot. For Dan

Pastorini (68), the top of the game was as starting Quarterback for

the Houston Oilers N.F.L. franchise.

Listed on this page are the Goldpanners to have ascended

to the major leagues, listed by their debut date and

major league club. The latest Panner to reach the big

leagues is Dustin Garneau from the 2007 club.

06/18/61

10/03/64

09/02/65

09/11/65

04/26/66

09/03/66

04/13/67

07/01/67

07/05/67

07/27/67

09/06/67

09/07/67

05/27/68

07/04/68

09/09/68

06/25/69

04/09/70

04/24/70

06/14/70

09/09/70

06/20/71

06/23/71

07/30/71

07/31/71

09/15/71

09/19/71

05/17/72

06/07/72

07/31/72

09/10/72

04/08/73

04/09/73

06/18/73

07/04/73

07/19/73

04/04/74

04/07/74

06/14/74

07/27/74

04/08/75

06/14/75

05/15/76

09/17/76

04/07/77

04/19/77

05/05/77

04/07/78

04/07/78

06/29/78

07/09/78

08/06/78

08/19/78

09/02/78

04/11/79

06/08/79

09/07/79

09/17/79

04/11/80

06/01/80

06/12/80

06/28/80

09/01/80

09/04/80

09/06/80

09/08/80

09/20/80

04/11/81

04/12/81

04/26/81

05/20/81

08/19/81

09/02/81

09/09/81

09/15/81

04/07/82

04/09/82

07/06/82

09/11/82

09/12/82

04/05/83

06/02/83

09/02/83

09/02/83

09/13/83

09/20/83

04/03/84

04/03/84

04/05/84

04/11/84

06/02/84

07/28/84

05/19/85

06/26/85

09/05/85

04/11/86

05/30/86

07/19/86

09/02/86

09/05/86

09/06/86

04/25/87

Major League Baseball Debuts

Debut Name Club

Don Leppert*

Dave Dowling

Dick Selma*

Charlie Hartenstein

Jimy Williams

Rick Monday

Tom Seaver

Mike Adamson

Curt Motton

Dan Frisella

Graig Nettles

Al Schmelz

Mike Paul

Andy Messersmith

Eddie Leon

Bill Lee

Rich Hand

Greg Garrett

Steve Dunning

Jim Nettles

Pete Broberg

Tom House

Dave Kingman

Jim Barr

Don Rose

Dan Pastorini (NFL)

Bob Gallagher

Dave Roberts

Brent Strom

Bob Boone

John Andrews

Rich Troedson

Dave Winfield

Eddie Bane*

Craig Caskey

Jim Sundberg

Mike Reinbach

Steve Swisher

Rusty Gerhardt

Jim Umbarger

Kerry Dineen

Pete Redfern

Gary Wheelock

Steve Kemp

Floyd Bannister

Jackson Todd

Chuck Baker

Don Reynolds

Dwight Bernard*

Dennis Littlejohn

Scott Sanderson

Bruce Robinson

Billy Sample*

Eric Wilkins

Dan Graham

Sandy Whitol

Dave Schuler

Dave Smith

Vance Law

Mike Kinnunen

Tim Lollar

Bobby Mitchell

Dave Edler

Tim Wallach

John Butcher

Ken Phelps

Dan Boone

Tim Leary

Danny Garcia

Greg Harris

Terry Francona

Ron Roenicke

Tim Tolman

Dave Hostetler

Ed Vande Berg

Gary Rajsich

Don Slaught

Chris Codiroli

Dave Baker

Mike Couchee

Kevin McReynolds

Mike Fuentes

Harold Reynolds

Jeff Doyle

Marty Decker

Ben Hines*

Dave Meier

Ron Romanick

Alvin Davis

Jeff Cornell

Ed Amelung

Oddibe McDowell

Bob Sebra

Kevin Romine

Dan Plesac

Barry Bonds

Billy Moore

Dave Cochrane

Pat Dodson

Brad Arnsberg

Billy Bean

PIT

STL

NYM

CHC

STL

KCA

NYM

BAL

BAL

NYM

MIN

NYM

CLE

CAL

CLE

BOS

CLE

CAL

CLE

MIN

WAS

ATL

SFG

SFG

NYM

HOU

BOS

SDP

NYM

PHI

STL

SDP

SDP

MIN

MON

TEX

BAL

CHC

SDP

TEX

NYY

MIN

CAL

DET

HOU

NYM

SDP

SDP

NYM

SFG

MON

OAK

TEX

CLE

MIN

CLE

CAL

HOU

PIT

MIN

NYY

LAD

SEA

MON

TEX

KCR

SDP

NYM

KCR

NYM

MON

LAD

HOU

MON

SEA

NYM

KCR

OAK

TOR

SDP

SDP

MON

SEA

STL

SDP

LAD

MIN

CAL

SEA

SFG

LAD

TEX

TEX

BOS

MIL

PIT

MON

CWS

BOS

NYY

DET

Debut Name Club

04/25/87

05/25/87

07/04/87

07/02/87

09/14/87

04/07/88

04/26/88

06/02/88

07/14/88

07/20/88

09/02/88

09/05/88

09/12/88

09/14/88

09/16/88

04/05/89

06/07/89

07/07/89

07/15/89

08/19/89

04/09/90

09/06/90

09/18/90

09/02/90

05/07/91

05/22/91

05/25/91

06/16/91

07/02/91

09/01/91

09/02/91

05/17/92

05/17/92

08/03/92

08/06/92

08/19/92

05/05/93

05/29/93

05/29/93

05/31/93

07/28/93

08/13/93

09/01/93

09/04/93

09/12/93

09/21/93

04/05/94

04/05/94

04/19/94

07/18/94

04/28/95

04/28/95

04/30/95

05/08/95

08/02/95

09/10/95

04/02/96

05/18/96

09/06/96

05/31/97

09/03/97

03/31/98

04/02/98

06/09/99

08/21/99

08/27/99

09/03/99

09/07/99

08/29/00

09/04/00

09/07/00

04/06/01

07/16/01

09/19/01

05/10/02

09/03/02

06/26/03

09/02/03

07/02/04

09/08/04

04/16/05

09/18/05

04/01/06

07/02/07

03/21/08

07/11/08

07/21/08

05/21/09

05/23/09

09/01/09

07/21/10

09/08/11

06/16/13

06/23/13

04/13/15

08/20/15

Joe Magrane

Shane Mack

Mike Campbell

Alex Madrid

Dave Stapleton

Don Heinkel

Craig Worthington

Don August

John Fishel

Roger Samuels

Luis Medina

Mike Harkey

Dennis Cook

Chad Kreuter

Steve Wilson

Phil Stephenson

Jeff Wetherby

Mike Benjamin

Kevin Ritz

Rob Richie

Tim Layana

Paul Faries

Brent Mayne

Al Osuna

Chris Donnels

Don Wakamatsu

Jose Mota

Bret Barberie

Mark Davis

Tom Goodwin

Ed Zosky

Brad Brink

Benji Figueroa

Doug Linton

Shawn Barton

Bret Boone

Pat Meares

Greg Brummett

Kevin Higgins

Daryl Scott

Ty VanBurkleo

Brian Turang

Roger Smithberg

Eric Helfand

Bob Hamelin

Marc Ronan

Mike Kelly

Keith Lockhart

Jeff Tabaka

Eric Schullstrom

Todd Steverson

Gary Wilson

Steve Rodriguez

Jason Giambi

F.P. Santangelo

Darrell May

Dan Naulty

Shad Williams

Mike Robertson

Jose Cruz Jr.

Dan Rohrmeier

Travis Lee

Bobby Hughes

Jacque Jones

Adam Kennedy

Robert Ramsay

Cole Liniak

Jeff DaVanon

Jerrod Riggan

Todd Belitz

Michael Young

Christian Parker

Adam Pettyjohn

Jason Phillips

Jason Lane

Jim Rushford

Aaron Heilman

Bobby Crosby

David Bush

Greg Dobbs

Dave Gassner

Ryan Garko

Steve Hecht*

Brendan Ryan

Sheng-Wei Wang#

Mike Cervenak

Brooks Conrad

Kris Medlen

Carlos Fisher

Brian Jeroloman

Brad Davis

Chris Schwinden

Jake Dunning

Ryan Robowski

Allan Dykstra

Dustin Garneau

STL

SDP

SEA

MIL

MIL

STL

BAL

MIL

HOU

SFG

CLE

CHC

SFG

TEX

TEX

CHC

ATL

SFG

DET

DET

CIN

SDP

KCR

HOU

NYM

CWS

SDP

MON

CAL

LAD

TOR

PHI

STL

TOR

SEA

SEA

MIN

SFG

SDP

CAL

CAL

SEA

OAK

OAK

KCR

STL

ATL

SDP

PIT

MIN

DET

PIT

BOS

OAK

MON

ATL

MIN

CAL

SFG

SEA

SEA

ARI

MIL

MIN

STL

SEA

CHC

ANA

NYM

OAK

TEX

NYY

DET

NYM

HOU

MIL

NYM

OAK

TOR

SEA

MIN

CLE

TEX

STL

BRO

PHI

OAK

ATL

CIN

TOR

FLA

NYM

SFG

DET

TBR

COL


1964: Tom Seaver Auditions for U.S.C. Scholarship in Fairbanks

Boucher and Dedeaux Establish Partnership and Create Fabled Fairbanks “Pipeline to the Big Time”

The Goldpanners were a hit everywhere after finishing second in the nation in 1962. In a short

period of time, Red formed relationships with several West Coast colleges as he promoted summer

baseball in Alaska. But it was Boucher’s bond with U.S.C. coach Rod Dedeaux that put the

Goldpanners on the map. Dedeaux had one of the top college programs in the country. And

Boucher, in Alaska, could help build these young boys into men. Dedeaux sent a young pitcher

with hopes of transferring into U.S.C. up to Fairbanks to be sized up by Red.

Tom Seaver set the standard for a generation of big

league pitchers. In his twenty-year career in the

Major Leagues, the right-handed fireballer won

311 games and notched 3,640 strikeouts, while

posting a 2.86 career ERA, and picking up three Cy

Young awards. Seaver was elected overwhelmingly

to the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame in 1992

-- the first year he was eligible for the ballot -- by

the highest percentage in history.

But before Seaver became the National League’s

1967 Rookie of the Year, and a world-famous New

York Mets champion in 1969, “Tom Terrific” was an

Alaska Goldpanner. He played in Fairbanks for two

seasons with the Panners (1964-65), after his first

year of college ball, at Fresno City College, and second

after his transfer to the University of Southern

California.

The transfer to USC came as a direct result of Tom’s

progress during his summer with the Fairbanks

club. In those days, Panner manager Red Boucher

had struck a highly successful relationship with legendary

USC coach Rod Dedeaux, who in this case

wanted to make sure Tom was good enough to deserve

a college scholarship.

Red Boucher: “Tom was of the caliber I would call,

‘the typical Goldpanner’. I didn’t have to teach him

much as far as baseball was concerned.”

Tom Seaver: “For me, it was just going to be an

adventure going to Alaska. I mean, for a kid from

Fresno? No way. I very gladly got on the plane, and

went on to Fairbanks.”

Upon his arrival in Alaska, he was greeted by Goldpanners

manager Red Boucher. Mr. Boucher gave Seaver

a uniform and then drove directly to the park, where

the Goldpanners were playing the Bells from Washington

State. The score was tied at 2-2. Tom was asked

to get in uniform and go to the bullpen.

Tom Seaver: “They picked me up at the airport. I got

in the car, and my uniform was in the car! They said,

‘get dressed’, because they were playing. I didn’t know

where we were going. I didn’t know anybody on the

team.

So we drive to the stadium, and I got out and went to

the bullpen... which is where pitchers - young and old

- go and spend their time. All of a sudden, they called

down there and said ‘get loose, you are going to be in

the game next inning.’ And I pitched in the game.”

By the sixth inning, Tom was brought into the game,

having just got off the plane. At the mound, he met

College World Series MVP Bud Hollowell. Buddy

played for USC during the college season, and was to

be Tom’s catcher for the Goldpanners. Seaver struck

out the first batter he faced, got the next one to pop

up, and went on to win the game.

Tom Seaver: “If there is one thread that runs through

Red Boucher and Rod Dedeaux, it is their enthusiasm

for what they are doing. And especially talking about

baseball.“

Even after establishing himself in Major League Baseball,

Tom would keep in touch with Red. One of the

last times they were together was at the 80th birthday

party for Rod Dedeaux at USC.

Seaver started the 1965 Midnight

Sun Game, facing Dedeaux’s

USC Trojans.

“To describe Monday night’s

Midnight Sun game as dramatic

would be the understatement

of the year. It was more like the

closing scene from a fabulous, but

unbelievable Hollywood production...

From the very first inning it was

evident that the Trojans and the

Panners had come to play ball, and

play ball they did. Tom Seaver and

John Herbst, teammates in 1964

with the Goldpanners and this

college year with USC were facing

each other as Seaver started for

the Panners and Herbst for USC. It

developed as a tight pitching duel

to the fifth inning when Seaver,

making a bare-handed play on a

two hopper of the bat of Herbst,

had the ball catch him between the

fourth and small fingers and split

his hand.” Stan Caufield

Luckily, Tom was not seriously

injured by the line drive. By

the time his career was over,

Tom Seaver was regarded as

one of the greatest pitchers

ever. He was voted into the MLB

Hall of Fame with the highest

percentage of votes in history.

Throughout the decades since 1964, the “Boucher/

Dedeaux Pipeline” to Fairbanks has resulted in many

other similar situations, including the Fairbanks careers

of other USC baseball luminaries, such as Steve

Kemp, Dave Kingman, Bill “Spaceman” Lee, and Bret

Boone.

USC Head Coach Rod Dedeaux

Tom Seaver :“Your program, Red, was a vital step in my progress

toward reaching a world championship and specifically the Cy Young

award of 1969. I send my heartfelt thanks to you and the members of

the Goldpanners organization -- May it never cease to exist.”

Tom Seaver Quote and 1965 Pitching Motion

"My two years as an Alaska Goldpanner

remain as some of the fondest memories

in my baseball career."

11


1965: First Ever MLB Draftee

The Goldpanners are the Yankees of the MLB Draft

No other amateur sports organization in the world has

had more players drafted to play in professional ball.

The Alaska Goldpanners of Fairbanks

own the Major League Baseball draft

like no other team in baseball history.

There have been a record 1,170 player

selections devoted to Goldpanner ballplayers,

dating back to 1965 and Rick

Monday -- the very first player ever

drafted by a major league franchise.

Of those picks, there have been 125

first round selections, and 19 were

either the very first or second pick of

the entire draft! In addition, there have

been over 200 players to reach Major

League Baseball. This, too, is a record

among all non-professional teams, and

the 16% average of drafted Goldpanners

to reach MLB is well ahead of the

average ratio of 1 draftee in every 33

(3%) to reach baseball’s pinnacle .

Dodgers broadcaster Rick Monday,

who played 19 years in the major

leagues from 1966-84, was the

No. 1 selection overall by the Kansas

City Athletics in baseball’s first

amateur draft in 1965. The 1964

Goldpanners infielder/outfielder recalls

that historic draft 46 years ago:

“Nobody really knew how the process

was going to work. I had talked to

quite a few ballclubs, but Kansas City

was going to have the first pick. Their

scout, Art Lilly, had talked with me

very briefly when I was with Arizona

State. He said there was a real good

chance that the Athletics would select

me as the number one pick. But

on the periphery of all of this, nobody

knew exactly what was going to happen.

No one knew the effect it was

going to have on both baseball overall

and the people who were going to be

signed out of high school or college.

Actually, I had attorneys coming to

me saying, “Look, let’s take this to

court because if you’re selected

number one, why should you negotiate

with only one ballclub?” And

my first question was “How long will

this process take?” They said, “Oh,

about three to five years.” I said, “Forget

that, I’m going to play baseball.”

So we were in Omaha, Nebraska on

the day of the draft. Arizona State

was ready to play the opening game

of the College World Series. We

were in uniforms, sitting in the stands

and waiting for the preceding game to

be over. Someone comes up and says

“It’s just come out that you were Kansas

City’s first pick in the draft.” I went out

that night and struck out three times.

Then (Kansas City Owner) Charlie Finley

flew into Omaha and Sal Bando and

I were drafted off the same team. It was

an opportunity for me to reach out and

try to grab the brass ring, something I

dreamed about as a kid wearing a Little

League uniform and watching the

Dodgers play in the Coliseum. .

What’s nice about having been the

first selection in the very first draft

is that I get to relive the dream and

the opportunity when that door was

opened. Every year in June, it takes

me back to that very first year.” .

Four days after he was drafted, with A’s

owner Charles O. Finley in the stands,

Monday homered in a 2-1 win over

Ohio State to lead the Sun Devils to

their first College World Series championship.

Monday would sign the largest

bonus in the 1965 draft, $100,000,

and went on to enjoy a productive 19-

year big league career. He remains in

the game as a broadcaster for the Los

Angeles Dodgers.

12

Rick Monday


Dan Pastorini Home Run Swing

Floyd Bannister

13


The 55 Greatest Alaska Goldpanners


Chosen During the Team’s 55th Season

Life-long Mentors for Fairbanks Baseball

All-Time Greatest: Emmitt Wilson & Sean Timmons


1966: Goldpanners Win World Championship

Only Independent Team of Any Sport to Win World Title

The Goldpanners organization is the most

high-profile not-for-profit civic club in the

city of Fairbanks. Throughout the history of

the program, it has also proudly served as a

representative of the Golden Heart City to

the rest of the world. At a time when the

world knew little about Fairbanks aside from

the aviation exploits of men such as Joe

Crosson, Noel Wien, and Howard Hughes,

the Goldpanners burst onto the national

scene with an unlikely Cinderella showing at

the 1962 NBC World Series.

The novelty of being from the newly minted

State of Alaska, in addition to the high level

of play on the field, resulted in the Goldpanners

developing a cult following around

the nation. These days, the club’s fame has

spread across the entire world, allowing it to

represent the Alaskan culture of the Tanana

Valley. Due in part to the internet, the club’s

profile has risen to heights unparalleled by

any other amateur sports team.

The Goldpanners first met a team from outside

the 50 states in 1965 against Nassau,

Bahamas, in the N.B.C. Tournament.

The Panners made a huge splash on the international

scene in 1966 when Red Boucher

took the team to Honolulu to represent the

United States in the World Amateur Tournament

and shocked the reigning global

champion, the Japanese national team, by

winning two straight games in the best-ofthree

final.

The Goldpanners also won the Hawaiian Invitational

Tournament while on the island.

In 1968, an eight-city tour of Japan provided

yet another opportunity for the Goldpanners

to present America to the rest of

the world.

In 1972, when anti-Communist tensions

still ran at their peak, the Goldpanners

were called upon to represent America by

taking on the Cuban National Team.

That same year, USA Baseball officials discussed

plans to organize the Panners into a

post-season USA National Team, travelling

to far-flung destinations as official ambassadors

of the country.

The first meeting with a professional team

from outside the U.S. came in 1974 when

the Panners knocked off the Cordoba Cafeteros

of Mexico in the Kamloops International

Tournament in Kamloops, British

Columbia.

Throughout the following three decades,

the Panners face a variety of international

teams, including from China, Guam, Mexico,

Korea, Taiwan, Japan, Canada, Netherlands,

Nicaragua, and the Ukraine.

In 1991, the Goldpanners played the Moscow

Red Devils at Jack Murphy Stadium.

This season the Goldpanners continued

the tradition of playing in large stadiums by

facing the Seattle Studs at Cheney Stadium

following a game between the Triple-A Tacoma

Rainiers and the Reno Aces.

Out of all the varied competition, Jim Dietz

declared in 1972, “Cuba is the Best Team

We Will Ever Play

16


1967: Mike Adamson First Goldpanner to Skip Minor Leagues

Twenty players have skipped the minor leagues; six are Goldpanners

Nine players made the majors from the 1966

Goldpanners Of these, two - Bob Boone and

Bill Lee - forged nearly Hall of Fame worthy

careers. However, it is little known pitcher

Mike Adamson who made the most immediate

impact upon the game of baseball.

Adamson’s stuff was so good for the Goldpanners

in 1966 (9-0-0 record, 1.43 ERA),

and U.S.C. in the spring of 1967, that he

bypassed the minor leagues entirely, making

his professional debut in the American

League pitching for the Baltimore Orioles..

On June 6, 1967 Mike Adamson was drafted

by the Orioles in the 1st round (1st pick) of

the 1967 amateur draft (Secondary Phase).

He signed on June 27. At that time he was

the first player in draft history to go straight

to the major leagues.

Though seemingly taken from the realm of

fantasy, similar meteoric advancements have

been enjoyed by numerous Goldpanners.

In fact, out of twenty modern players

like Mike to have made their professional

debuts in MLB, six are Goldpanners!

And there could have been more. David Clyde

was set to pitch in Growden Park for the Goldpanners

in June of 1973. Instead, he found

himself pitching in Arlington Stadium for the

Texas Rangers Major League Baseball club.

Clyde, who was a bat boy for the Goldpanners

in the 1967 NBC World Series, had long

desired to play for Fairbanks. However, the

opportunity to vault directly to the top was

too incredible to ignore. That, and the contract

terms that were being offered.

David received a $125,000 ($617,769 in current

dollar terms) signing bonus, which was

the highest bonus ever given to a draft pick

at the time.

Nevertheless, David was apparently greatly

disappointed by this denial of his boyhood

dream, and he took the time to write

Goldpanners management expressing his

sorrow.

The leap straight to the major leagues is

not easy on anyone.. and Mike Adamson

was no exception.

The 19-year-old’s first appearance came on

July 1, against the Cleveland Indians. Adamson

appeared in 3 games for the 1967

Orioles posting a 0-1 record in 3 appearances,

before being sent to the International

League Rochester Red Wings for the

remainder of the season. While there he

won 3 games while losing 4, pitching 60 innings

and turning in a good 1.95 ERA.

Mike started 1968 with the Red Wings,

winning 8 games and losing 4 in 60 innings

and posted a 3.07 ERA. He was called up to

the Orioles for the remainder of the season,

going 0-2 in 7.7 innings and posted a

9.39 ERA.

In 1969 Mike was with both the Orioles and

Red Wings clubs, building a 11-8 record in

149 innings with a 4.17 ERA with the Red

Wings and going 0-1 in 6 games with the

Orioles. This year was his last appearance

in the majors.

Mike appeared in 27 games with the Rochester

club in 1970, winning 4 and losing 5

in 95 innings with a 4.36 ERA. The young

man spent 1971 with three different minor

league teams, with an overall record of 1-3

in 74 innings and a combined 8.06 ERA.

At age 23 the right-hander had spent 5 seasons

in professional baseball and decided

to look elsewhere for a career.

FEB 1966: Tommy Lasorda and

future N.L. Rookie of the year

Don Sutton are in Fairbanks for

the A67 & Alaska Goldpanners

Winter Carnival. A banquet is

held at Club Switzerland.

Mike Adamson

Dave Roberts

17


1971: Winfield Becomes Every Day Player

Minnesota used Dave sparingly as a pitcher; the Panners let him play.

Dave Winfield used his prowess in the outfield, and his ferocity at the

plate, to drive his career straight into the MLB Hall of Fame. Dave is

the second Goldpanner to be inducted into that illustrious fraternity.

Allan Simpson, Sports Writer June 28, 1972

The story of how Dave Kingman gave up pitching to become one of baseball's top hitters

has now been chronicled. It was the year 1969, as the story goes, that Kingman,

then a sophomore pitcher out of the University of Southern California, was recruited

by the Alaska Goldpanners to play ball for the summer in Fairbanks. His reputation

as a pitcher at the time was such that he was considered one of the top collegiate

throwers in the country.

However, that summer the Goldpanners, though still respecting his ability as a pitcher,

also recognized his unlimited potential as a hitter like no one else had before,

and in a bold move they converted the six foot six inch slugger from a pitcher to an

outfielder. And since that switch, Kingman has quickly risen to prominence, gaining

nationwide acclaim for his slugging exploits with the San Francisco Giants. All

this because the Goldpanners took it upon themselves to convert the multi-talented

slugger from a pitcher to an everyday ball player.

And now that they've seen what's happened to Kingman, could history repeat itself?

Could the Goldpanners have another Kingman in their midst? The name this time is

Dave Winfield, and the similarities between his career to date and that of Kingman's

at a comparable stage are actually quite amazing.

Winfield, like Kingman, was originally recruited by the Panners as a pitcher, but his

recent batting exploits have been so awesome of late, that the natural question to

ask is: could he switch positions and become another Kingman?

Tuesday night at Growden Park, Winfield, who like Kingman also towers to a height

of 6-6, put on another hitting exhibition which even Kingman would have been

proud of, as he cracked a grand slam home run and a run-scoring single to power

the Goldpanners to a 5-2 victory over the Grand Junction, Colo., Eagles. Winfield's

bases loaded blast, which came with the Panners trailing 2-1 in the fifth, not only

personally won the game for the Goldpanners, but it also helped them halt Grand

Junction's win streak at 14 games, after the Eagles had taken the opener 7-5 in extra

innings. The offensive display by Winfield follows one he put on Saturday when he

slammed a double and two home runs—a performance which wasn't even good

enough to win his own game.

So in only 12 official at-bats this season, Winfield is hitting .500 and has slugged three

home runs. That’s ahead of the pace Kingman established in ‘69 when he clubbed

seven home runs in a total of 64 times at bat. “We’ve known all along what Winfield’s

capable of doing with the bat,” said manager Jim Dietz “and that’s why we’ve

tried to work him into the lineup occasionally.” “He’ll play more and more in the outfield

as the season progresses, but whether he’ll ever become a full-time outfielder,

it’s hard to say at this time.”

Dave in a Letter to Don Dennis: “I have probably

never adequately thanked you and the entire

Goldpanner family for giving me the opportunity

to live and play in Fairbanks. Even had I

not achieved the level of success I now enjoy in

professional baseball, I would still appreciate the

opportunity as much.”

18


1976: Andy Messersmith Becomes First True Free Agent

Landmark Court Ruling Against MLB Reserve Clause Heralds New Era in Baseball

Though the Panner program has graduated a large number of important ballplayers to the big

leagues, what is truly amazing is the broad impact that the cream of that crop has had in shaping

the state of the game itself. By personally taking on the highest echelons of power in baseball and

then defeating them, Andy Messersmith became the most important player since Babe Ruth.

Right-hander made history by challenging reserve clause

By Gary Caruso / ChopTalk Magazine

The Braves don’t open the regular season until the end of

March, but college baseball is in full swing. Among a few

former Braves coaching in college is Andy Messersmith, the

pitcher who in 1976 changed the course of baseball history

-- with the assistance of Ted Turner.

Messersmith, a product of the University of California at

Berkeley, didn’t like how the media portrayed him and his

quest to break down the reserve clause. He had little to say

to the press then, and little has been heard from him since

then.

Messersmith, 62, is the head baseball coach at Cabrillo College,

a community college in Aptos, Calif., located on the

Pacific coast, south of San Francisco, between San Jose and

Monterey. He just started the third season of his second

stint at the school, where he also coached from 1986-91.

Last year, the Seahawks were 18-22 overall, 10-15 (fourth

place) in the Coast Conference.

Veteran Braves fans are sure to remember Turner signing

Messersmith in 1976 -- to baseball’s first free agent contract

-- and promptly issuing him uniform No. 17 with the “nickname”

Channel on the back to promote his TV station.

Messersmith was one of the game’s best pitchers from

1969-75, twice winning 20 games. He started Game 1 of

the World Series for the Dodgers in 1974, when he tied Phil

Niekro for the league lead in victories.

In 1975, Messersmith played without a contract and claimed

he thus became a free agent who no longer was subject to

the infamous “reserve clause” that basically bound players

to their teams for life at that point. Major League Baseball

refused to recognize his claim, and the matter went before

an arbitration panel set up to handle disputes between

players and management.

The panel ruled that the reserve clause was no more than

a one-year option, thus making Messersmith and Expos

pitcher Dave McNally the first free agents. McNally was

injured and retired. Messersmith likely would have found

himself without a job.

If not for Turner, the maverick owner looking to make a

splash with his new team and trying to create viewership

interest for a major block of programming on his TV station.

Turner signed Messersmith for what he called a “lifetime

contract” of $1 million. Actually, it was a three-year deal

that would be laughed at on today’s market. In 1976, however,

it was major news.

In fact, more than three decades later, he’s still not interested

in talking publicly. ChopTalk made three attempts to

interview him, including one through the Cabrillo journalism

department and one through a sports writer in his area, and

he declined all of them. He does talk to the press in his area,

but only about his players and team, possibly making him

the most-reticent college coach in the country.

Messersmith won 39 games in 1974-75, led the NL in winning

percentage in ‘74 (.769) and in starts, complete games

and shutouts in ‘75 (40/19/7). He won Gold Gloves both

seasons and made the All-Star team both years, giving him

three career selections. In the ‘70s and ‘80s, however, few

player acquisitions worked well for the Braves, and this signing

fit that description.

Messersmith, only 30 when Turner signed him, never really

was the same pitcher again, though that was due to injuries,

not a lack of talent.

The right-hander started slowly in ‘76. He missed Spring

Training due to contract negotiations and didn’t win a game

until his seventh start on May 17. In June, he appeared to

be the pitcher the Braves thought they were getting -- going

5-1 and earning his fourth All-Star selection. He injured a

hamstring right before the All-Star break, though, and that

-- combined with a sore shoulder -- hampered him during

the second half and he finished 11-11 with a 3.04 ERA in 29

games (28 starts).

Messersmith won just five games in 1977, shutting down

after a July 3 elbow injury that required surgery. The Braves

sold him to the Yankees, and he pitched briefly and ineffectively

for them in ‘78 and for the Dodgers in ‘79 before retiring.

His career record is 130-99 in 12 seasons, and his 2.86

lifetime ERA and .212 opponents’ batting average are strong

evidence of the quality of pitcher he was when healthy.

Ted Simmons: “Curt Flood stood up for us; Jim Hunter showed us what was out there; Andy

Messersmith showed us the way. Andy made it happen for us all. It’s what showed a new life.”

Andy Messersmith : “I did it for the guys sitting on the bench, the utility men who

couldn’t crack the lineup with (the Dodgers) but who could make it elsewhere. These

guys should have an opportunity to make a move and go to another club. I didn’t do it

necessarily for myself because I’m making a lot of money. I don’t want everyone to think,

‘Well, here’s a guy in involuntary servitude at $115,000 a year. That’s a lot of bull and

I know it.”

Barry Bonds : “We should make it. We’re the ones doing the entertaining.”

Jim Bouton : “For a hundred years the owners screwed the players. For 25 years the

players have screwed the owners - they’ve got 75 years to go.”

Ted Turner : “Gentlemen, we have the only legal monopoly in the country, and we’ve

f------ it up.”

Andy in N.Y. Times : “I wasn’t prepared for the pressure that came down [after the Seitz

ruling and his Braves deal]. I didn’t know anything about it. I came out as the

dirty dog. That was a real hard thing for me. I just wasn’t ready for it.”

Andy Messesmith - 1974 National League Wins Champion

2.86 Career ERA (Seaver won in 1975 and had an identical 2.86 career ERA)

19


1983: Fourteen Panners Will Ascend to MLB

Goldpanners Comprise 6% of all Major Leaguers in Late 1980s

The 1983 season saw what was possibly the most talented Goldpanners squad

of them all, as attested by the record 14 players that later went on to play in

Major League Baseball. One of them is a future Hall of Famer.

The Goldpanners’ “Pipeline to the

Big Time” was strong throughout

the late 1960s. But by the time the

decade of the 1970s was over, the

Goldpanners’ output had blanketed

the professional game.

There were at least ten future major

leagues on six of the 1970s club

rosters. In the mid 1980s, however,

the floodgates opened, resulting

in a strong Goldpanners influence

throughout all levels of play.

The largest single group of budding

major leaguers played together on

the 1983 team. An astounding 14

total players from the club eventually

made Major League Baseball!

No other amateur team in history

has come close to either this

single season total, or the overall

aggregate.

Among all the recognizable names

on the list, of major leaguers from

the 1983 club, the one that stands

out the most is that of Barry Bonds.

Barry set the all-time season and

career home run records, among

many other achievements.

What is amazing about Barry’s time

with the Goldpanners is that, being

unable to crack the superbly talented

outfield, he was forced to handle

fielding duties at FIRST BASE.

That season, the Goldpanners

were sporting what NCAA Hall

of Fame coach Dave Snow called

“the most talented outfield I have

ever coached”. The trio of fielders

-- all future major leaguers -- were

dubbed the “Million Dollar Outfield”.

They were Mark Davis in left, Oddibe

McDowell in center, and Shane Mack

in right. The combination was lethal

to opponents, helping lead the Panners

to the title game in the 1983

NBC World Series.

Following is an article on the 1983

Goldpanners outfield, written by

Bob Lutz for the Wichita Eagle:

Outfielders Oddibe McDowell, Shane

Mack and Mark Davis are all speedsters

who help make the Fairbanks

Goldpanners’ offense potentially lethal.

The players are sharing a room

in Wichita during the National Baseball

Congress tournament.

“We just call it the ‘Gold Room”, said

Goldpanners Manager Dave Snow.

(Barry Bonds later commented to Don

Dennis, “‘The Gold Room? Have you

been in there? It’s more like the ‘Mold

Room’).

Snow hasn’t posted armed guards at

the ‘Gold Room’ door to protect his

outfielders. But it might not be a bad

idea.

“All three of these kids are outstanding

prospects,” Snow said. “It’s the best

collection of outfield talent I’ve ever

coached.”

McDowell, Mack and Davis all come

from the baseball-rich Pacific 10 Conference.

McDowell patrols center field

for Arizona State. Mack is the right

fielder for UCLA and Davis plays center

for Stanford.

McDowell and Mack were two-thirds of

the All-Pac 10 outfield and both were

All-Americans. Davis was an honorable

mention All-Pac 10 choice.

Stanford co-sports information director

Bob Vazquez is astounded that

all three are together with Fairbanks,

which has a 4-1 tourney record.

Hutchinson defeated the Goldpanners,

5-4, Friday night. ‘Ten years down the

road,” Vazquez said, “that’s an all-star

outfield.”

San Diego native is batting .322 with

35 RBI and 47 runs scored and has

stolen 26 bases in 29 attempts.

Davis, who plays left field for Fairbanks,

admits he needs to work on his

strength.

“My arm is not really strong yet,” Davis

said. “I’ve learned a lot this summer,

though. My biggest goal was to learn

how to bunt. With my speed that has

to become a part of my game.”

Davis has had a pair of bunt singles

in the tournament and has stolen two

bases.

“I’m not your typical leadoff hitter,” Davis

said. “I don’t like to take strikes and

I don’t like to look for walks.”

But Davis has drawn 29 walks to lead

the Goldpanners - even if he doesn’t

like it.

Says Snow: “Mark’s a guy who continually

works to improve his skills and to

become a complete players. He’s got

a lot of confidence in his game and I

think he can be a prospect as a center

fielder after he improves his throwing.

McDowell hit .352 and stole 36 bases

for Arizona State this season, then was

the top pick in the secondary phase of

the draft - for players who previously

have been chosen.

But he remains unsigned because

the Twins aren’t offering enough

money, he says. “I’m not looking for

six figures,” McDowell said. “They

just haven’t come up with the five

figures I want.”

The book on McDowell is that he

can do everything - run, hit, throw -

though he hasn’t gotten untracked in

the NBC.

“I haven’t done a whole lot in this

tournament,” McDowell said. “Hopefully,

things will start going right for

me sooner or later.”

The Hollywood, Fla., native has

been a valuable commodity to major

league scouts since his high school

days - McDowell has been drafted

five times.

Hutchinson manager Dan Radison

was coaching at Fort Lauderdale,

Fla Junior College when McDowell

was still in high school.

“I knew he was going to be a great

one all along,” Radison said. “He

hasn’t shown what kind of hitter he

really is in this tournament. He really

doesn’t even belong in this tournament.

If he’d sign he probably be

playing Double A ball.”

As Fairbanks General Manager Don

Dennis says, however, it’s difficult to

tell how far a player can go at such a

young age.

Davis is only 18 while Mack and Mc-

Dowell are 20. “There are just too

many variables,” Dennis said. “But I’d

have to say that these three are ticketed

for getting a shot to play in the big

leagues.”

20

So far in the NBC tournament, Mack

has be the best long-term prospect.

Davis’ stats with the Goldpanners are

Barry Bonds

better than McDowell’s or Mack’s. The

Mark Davis Oddibe McDowell Shane Mack


Jason Giambi 21


Bill “Space

1967 Midnight Sun Game

The Kumagai jumped on starter

Bill Lee for four big runs to take

the lead in the top of the fifth on

three hits and two Panner errors.

Kato led off with a double

to left and after Furuta lined out

sharply to Nettles in right, came

riding home on Ito’s single. When

Klausen bobbled the ball Ito took

second, then Konishi drove Ito in

with a single to center and later

scored on Sunao Kawano’s booming

double.

The Kumagai added to their lead

in the sixth, scoring three runs

on three bases on balls, Kazuo

Yamamoto’s single and another

Goldpanner error. The Panners

could do little off Fujitsu the rest

of the game as the little hurler

gave up but five hits while striking

out eight in the six innings that he

worked.

The Japanese had nine hits, including

three doubles and a triple.

Goldpanner pitchers Bill Lee and

Brent Strom aided the Japanese

case by issuing 10 walks, and the

usually reliable Goldpanner defense

chipped in with seven errors

allowing the Japanese to score 7

unearned runs.

Japan drew first blood by scoring

a run in the first without the aid

of a hit after Teruyasu Jinno was

thrown out on a hopper to second.

Lee walked Hironori Kato and

Masayuki Furuta. Tomoyuki Ito hit

sharply to short to force Kato at

second but Alvin Strane’s throw to

first was wide of the mark for an

error allowing Kato to score from

second.

The Goldpanners were held

scoreless until the fourth when

they scored all of their runs. Marvin

Galliher opened the inning with

a single to center and promptly

scored as Bill Seinsoth hit his second

home run in two nights. Yasuo

Fujitsu replaced starter Toshihisa

Okabe and got Steve Klausen on

a grounder to third. Jim Nettles

then tripled to right and scored as

Gary Sanserino lined a one baser

to left. - Stan Caufield, News-Miner

22

Bill Lee


man” Lee

2008 Midnight Sun Game

It appeared Lee was there for novelty.

The tall, thick-legged left-hander played for the

Goldpanners in 1966 and 1967. He followed that

with a major league career in which he compiled

an 119-90 overall record in 10 years with the Boston

Red Sox and four with the Montreal Expos.

2nd Largest MSG Crowd Witnesses Lee’s Date with Destiny

His feet weren’t very stable on Growden’s soft

dirt, so he traded in his left shoe in for long cleats

from one of his teammates. He was a bit more

anchored then, but every pitch dug his left foot

further into the mound. “Every inning I went out

and I repaired the mound,” he said. “I’d get the

hole all the way up to about 5 inches deep, and

by the end of the inning it’d be down to China.”

By the end of the second inning, he was two runs

down, one from a wild pitch. It seemed like he

had dug himself too deep.

But the sun hadn’t set yet, not in the sky, nor for Lee.

In the average 60-something man, joints are much

stiffer, especially in the spine and rib cage. For a

pitcher, that puts more stress on the shoulder to

throw the ball, according to Greg Milles, a nineyear

physical therapist. “It would be something

if he was playing in a recreational softball game,”

Milles said, “but to be able to pitch fast-pitch ball

like that, it’s going to take a lot more wear and

tear on his rotator cuff and on his body in general.”

Two innings of overhand, full-force work

would have been a commendable feat for anyone

who qualifies for AARP discounts. And for Lee,

who is knocking on the door of Social Security,

it’s downright astonishing. So after the second,

when he looked vulnerable, no one would have

thought less of him for calling it a night.

Lee breezed through the third inning, but the

strain on his body was beginning to show. Panners

manager Tim Gloyd noticed Lee breathing

out of his mouth, gasping for air at times and

looking wobbly in his legs. “You could tell he was

old after he released the ball,” Gloyd said. “When

he was pitching, he was fine because he was so

focused.”

Making matters worse, Lee was relying on his

heat more than usual. “The funny thing is: They

couldn’t hit my fastball,” Lee said. “It was weird,

you know? They hit my breaking ball. I made

some mistakes on my changeup and they hit that,

but any time I stayed hard, they couldn’t hit it, just

foul it back, foul it back, foul it back.”

“I went to places through adrenaline and the

crowd and everything,” he said. “Somehow my

body was 38 years old again. It was an emotional

game. I took my shoulder places it hasn’t been in

a long time.”

And he was still hurling through the sixth, which

was long enough for the Panners’ offense to give

him a 5-4 lead and the chance for a win. At this

point, Lee could not lose the game if he stayed

off the field. So it was surprising to see him put on

his glove and begin the seventh. As it turns out,

it was only to throw one final pitch. “I said, ‘Well,

I’m gonna make it a good one, so I challenged

the kid and he got a base hit,” Lee said.

Lee walked off the mound to a rousing ovation and with

no chance of a loss. The Panners slowly expanded

their lead to 10-4, and it seemed all but inevitable that

Lee was going to avenge his defeat in 1967.

With victory near, Lee’s mind wasn’t on his career

or where this accomplishment stood in baseball history.

His thoughts were of Ken Kesey’s “Sometimes

a Great Notion,” whose main character’s motto was

“Never give an inch!” and John McPhee’s “The Sense

of Where You Are” about the rise of basketball great

Bill Bradley.

At 1:35 a.m., after a short period of deep dusk, the

sun was heading back up to the horizon in the bottom

of the ninth. The crowd chanted “we want

an out,” imploring that the Running Birds’ Crispin

Tarango, with two strikes against him and two

outs on the board, be the last batter of the night.

Tarango swung without contact. 10-6 Panners.

A win for Bill Lee under the midnight sun. The crowd

had erupted into applause the moment the ball popped

into Jeremy Gillan’s mitt.

The Byrds’ “Mr. Spaceman,”

with its folksy

twang, was soon at full

volume on the PA system,

warbling through the

claps and whoops from

the stands.

Lee was at the mound almost

immediately, shaking

hands with youthful

energy.

“I’d finally redeemed myself

since ’67,” he said.

“Sometimes you gotta

wait a long time for it to

come back, you know?”

- Joshua Armstrong

Stroecker and the Spaceman

BILL LEE IN 2008

23


From touchdowns to home runs, Alex demonstrates

that the strikes of life only make a true athlete

undefeatable. Former UCLA football defensive

back, Alex Mascarenas had to change his plans

after suffering multiple concussions. Maybe football

was over for this 24 year-old, but the bats and

gloves from Santa Ana College gave him a second

chance in sports. Academically, he wants to pursue

a Master’s Degree in Sports Psychology.

Alex takes all his preparation seriously and continuously

inspires his peers through his driven

passion and focus. Alex has gained respect as the

team’s “dad” due to his experience in both football

in college, and baseball in high school. Plus, he is

the oldest member of the team.

“Knowing that it’s going to be your last time ever

playing just made me keep pushing.” Nothing’s

ever set in stone. Something is always out there for

you. Just find it and always keep working hard.”

Brandon Evans is climbing up the baseball ladder.

He rose from two seasons of junior college baseball

to now playing for the Nevada Wolfpack.

During the 2016 collegiate season, Brandon

played in 13 games with 10 starts before missing

the remainder of the season due to injury.

His season-high mark of three RBI came against

Santa Clara.

Prior to Nevada, Evans played for two seasons at

Santa Barbara City College. He played in 38 games

as a sophomore, batting .308 with 31 runs, 21 RBI

and 11 extra base hits, helping lead the Vaqueros

to a 33-11 record en route to a conference championship.

While at SBCC, Brandon was a two-year

letter winner. Brandon graduated from Oaks

Christian High School in Westlake, CA, where he

was a four-year letter winner. He only had 32 AB’s

for the Wolfpack in 2016, so coming to Fairbanks

this summer will provide him with valuable playing

experience.

Steven Weber is a sophomore first baseman for

Edmonds Community College. The left-handed hitter

has swatted 3 homers, 23 RBI, and has an average

of .289 this season in only 76 at-bats. In league

play, Steven hit .286 in 35 at-bats, with six doubles,

eight walks, and seven RBI. He also swiped five

bases. Weber’s 3-run double on March 18th broke

a 2-2 tie in the bottom of the 8th inning to propel

the Tritons to a 5-2 victory over Tacoma Community

College. Weber was 2-for-3 with 4 RBI, 2 BB and

a stolen base.

Following the 2015 season, Steven was named to

the All-NWAC North First Team as a designated hitter.

His teammate, Brian Way, is from Sitka, Alaska.

Look for Weber to bring his “A” game to the Goldpanners

organization this season. Weber, perhaps

above all Panners, has the chance to prove that he

is a diamond in the rough. Scouts love those who

project as well as Steven..

24


Ryan Aguilar struggled in his first season as an Arizona

Wildcat but showed tremendous turnaround

this year. The transfer from Santa Ana College

started only 12 games and batted .190. “Coming in

last year, it was just a big transition,” Aguilar said.

“It just took me a year to figure out what the deal

is in D-1.”

Aguilar seems to have figured it out. In a year’s

time, he has gone from bit player to offensive

force. Heading into Arizona’s Pac-12 home opener

against UCLA on Thursday, Aguilar leads the Wildcats

in batting average (.350), slugging percentage

(.600) and RBIs (18).

Ryan is tied with projected first-round draft pick

Bobby Dalbec for the team lead in home runs

(four). Aguilar and teammate Zach Gibbons have

reached base in all 20 of Arizona’s games. “This

year I’m a little more relaxed,” Aguilar said. “I’m

just having fun, being thankful, and playing for the

moment.”

Scott Sebald is a 6-foot-5 left-handed pitcher from

Lindsey Wilson of the NAIA. Heading into the NAIA

World Series in 2016, Scott had 18 appearances,

starting 16 games. Over 112.2 innings pitched,

he struck out 119 batters to only 19 walks, an astounding

record of success. Opponents hit only

.228 against Scott, and he finished the regular season

with a 2.88 ERA. During the regular season, he

had ten wins and three losses.

Scott led the Lindsey Wilson baseball team to its

first-ever victory at the Avista-NAIA Baseball World

Series as the Blue Raiders took down The Master’s

(Calif.) by a 7-1 margin. Sebald (11-3) put forth another

gem on the mound with a complete-game

effort, his fifth in his last six starts, while striking

out a season-high 12 batters and allowing four hits

on 114 pitches. He also struck out 12 against Cumberlands

(Ky.) back on March 25. The senior faced

the minimum number of Mustang (41-18) batters

in six of his nine innings pitched.

Billy Sample rejoins the Goldpanners this year as an

assistant coach. William Amos Sample (born April 2,

1955 in Roanoke, Virginia), is a former professional

baseball player who played in the Major Leagues

primarily as an outfielder from 1978-1986. Sample

played for the Texas Rangers (1978-1984), New York

Yankees, (1985) and Atlanta Braves (1986). Over a

9-year career, Billy hit for a solid .272 average.

Primarily a broadcaster/writer after his playing days,

Sample has broadcast for the Braves, Seattle Mariners,

and California Angels, as well as contributing

to NPR, CBS Radio, ESPN, and MLB.com. As a writer,

Sample has been published in Sports Illustrated and

The New York Times, and was one of the columnists

at the inception of USA Today’s Baseball Weekly.

Though Billy recently added filmmaker to his résumé,

producing his award-winning screenplay into

the movie “Reunion 108” (an edgy, satirical comedy

with a baseball backdrop.) he is widely celebrated

as an author. His latest book can be purchased on

Amazon. If you see him, please say hi. Billy will also

take part in the Midnight Sun Game.

HIGHLIGHTS FROM TWITTER.COM/GOLDPANNERS

25


FIRST BASEBALL PILGRIMS WELCOMED TO TANANA VALLEY

(Continued from page 9)

Even as Fairbanks transformed itself from a temporary gold camp into

an incorporated city, baseball maintained its civic importance. With

the fame of America’s northernmost city spreading, tourists arrived in

increasing numbers to observe the natural phenomenon of baseball

being played at midnight. Fresh arrivals to town (“Chechakos”)

celebrated the tradition alongside Sourdoughs, and took game reports

home to the Lower 48.

Struck by the novelty of the solstice event, journalists published word

of the game to an ever-widening audience. The earliest known report

was given by the Seattle Times in 1907. The tale of midnight baseball

traveled down the West Coast. In 1913, Sunset Magazine printed the

first of its many Fairbanks baseball stories, entitled “Play Ball at Midnight

- Showing How Fans Are in Evidence in Central Alaska on the Longest Day of

the Year”. In the article, H.C. Jackson engages a talkative Sourdough.

When asked if the tradition was new, the Fairbanksan replied, “New

nothing. Why, ever since the Fairbanks camp was struck in 1902, or as soon

afterward as we had suitable grounds, to be exact, we have been playing

ball at midnight on the longest day of the year.”

Colorful reporting, coupled with distribution of picture postcards of

the game, proved an irresistible lure. As transportation into Fairbanks

became more reliable, tourism increased dramatically. In 1918,

Nenana became the first outside ball team to join the spectacle.

Defying geographic obstacles to arrive in Fairbanks proved easier

than the threat of Eddie Stroecker. Stroecker started on the mound for

the locals, and beat the Nenana nine. Of Eddie it was written, “The

difference in the playing lies in the spirit of the nines. Dad Stroecker, captain

of the Van Dycks puts the pep in his men. He keeps them gingered up even

if the score is going against them.”

As the fame of the Midnight Sun Game tradition grew, so too did

commercial investment into Fairbanks. The mineral wealth of the

Tanana Valley was exploited, and numerous jobs were available.

This led to a continuing stampede of laborers and speculators into the

area. The tradition of solstice baseball in the 1920s and 1930s saw the

emergence of teams of industrial workers. These men played for large

corporations such as the Fairbanks Exploration Co. and Standard Oil.

The decade of the 1940s saw Fairbanks and the midnight tradition grow

dramatically. Fairbanks had become the central hub for military buildup

in Alaska. The lend-lease program utilized Fairbanks as the main

transfer site for eight thousand aircraft to China, the USSR, and America’s

European allies. As a result of the increased activity, Fairbanks saw

another population boom. Declaration of war in Europe and the threat

of Japanese invasion made Fairbanks even more critical as a center of

military activity. In 1942, on the day of the 37th Midnight Sun game, the

U.S. Government announced that Alaska’s western islands had been

occupied by the Japanese. Military bases around the Tanana Valley

were staffed with thousands of soldiers and the elaborate “Midnight

Sun League” was born. Each of the bases would hold versions of

the solstice classic. All told, there were around thirty held during the

decade. With so many new converts to the charm of the midnight

game, it was not long until word of the Fairbanks event spread all the

way around the world.

After the conclusion of the war in the Pacific in 1945, Fairbanks remained a

hub of military activity. Army surplus made the area resemble the beaches

of Normandy. Veterans often stayed in Alaska after their tour of duty expired

and the new population saw Fairbanks become a thriving city.

During the decade of the 1950s, baseball dominated sporting life in Fairbanks.

The North of the Range League was in full swing, and the Midnight Sun

Game was still a major event. 1959 saw the end of an era, as this would

be the last year that the host team for the midnight classic was staffed

entirely by Fairbanksans. In 1960, an entirely new life was given to the

tradition with the establishment of the Alaska Goldpanners baseball club.

The Goldpanners organization, founded by World War II veteran H.A. “Red”

Boucher, was increasingly staffed with college athletes from around the

nation. The Panners were a hit in Fairbanks, and won their first three Midnight

Sun games, en route to an appearance in the NBC National Championship

Game at Wichita (KS) in 1962. Their strong showing, and determined play

made them a hit everywhere they went. Tales of the midnight ballgame

followed along with them.

One thing that is certain about the Alaska Goldpanners of Fairbanks ballclub is

a learned approach to decision making. The team is powered by a volunteer

Board of Directors. At the head of that body for 45-years was one main figure:

President William G. “Bill” Stroecker. Bill is the son of Eddie Stroecker -- founder

of the Midnight Sun game -- and, like his dad, he became the driving force

behind the Fairbanks team’s success in the contest. Bill’s relationship with the

Goldpanners dates back to 1962. Needing financial help to take the team

to the national tournament in Wichita, team founder Red Boucher contacted

Bill, who was the President of First National Bank. “I called Bill up and he said,

“How much do you need?” - Red Boucher

During the roaring decade of the 1970s, Fairbanks grew into the full-fledged

city it is today. The discovery of vast quantities of oil in Alaska’s North Slope

brought another population stampede to the Tanana Valley, which served

as a hub of operations for construction of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline. With the

local population again flush with cash, ball games saw a resurgence of the

type of reckless enthusiasm -- on and off the field -- seen in its founding era.

Huge crowds surged through the stadium, and betting stakes were high. Oftentimes,

fist fights would break out in the stands. Thousands of fans watched

the Goldpanners win midnight games with regularity.

With Fairbanks, the Goldpanners, and the Midnight Sun game enjoying unprecedented

world-wide attention, teams began clamoring for the chance

to play under the midnight sun. Key opponents during the 1970s and 1980s

were college teams from around the nation. NCAA programs operated development

clubs during the summer, and the best were invited to Fairbanks

for the traditional game. The 1990s saw an increase in international teams

participating in the solstice event.

The decade of the 2000s was special for a number of reasons. Perhaps the

most obvious reason was the 100th playing of the traditional game. Media

from around the country was on hand to witness the 100th year of the solstice

tradition. Major League Baseball representatives were on hand, and following

the Goldpanners’ win they collected the hat and jersey of three-time

winning pitcher Sean Timmons. Sean’s gear was put on display at the MLB

Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, and he was invited to participate in their 2005

ceremony alongside Kirby Puckett and Wade Boggs. Greg Harris, the Major

League Baseball Hall of Fame Vice President of Procurement, said: “I’ve been

lucky enough to attend many World Series, All Star Games and Opening Days but

the Midnight Sun Game is in a league of it’s own.”

Fairbanks ballplayers are welcome

to take part in the Goldpanners

experience. The 2015

season saw participation of the

largest amount of local players in

team history. No less than eight

residents of the Tanana Valley

saw game action. Many others

spent time with the team on the

bench or at team practices. Local

residents are encouraged to have

their family participate in coaching

clinics or enjoy mentoring

through the Panner Parent program.

Contact Rhonda Lohrke

for details on how to join.

SCOOTER BYNUM CONNOR JOHNSON BRANDON POCHE STEVE SHAVER

26 DAKOTA TAYLOR MATT WIXON MATT VAN MUELKEN TANNER SHOEMAKER


Rick Monday, 1964

THE GREATEST PLAY IN BASEBALL HISTORY

On April 25, 1976, in the fourth inning in Los Angeles, 1964 Goldpanner Rick

Monday saved an American flag from being burned by two protestors in the outfield

at Dodger Stadium.

“I don’t know anybody who wouldn’t have done the same thing, if they were in

the same position,” Monday was saying the other day from Los Angeles, where

he threw out the ceremonial first pitch Sunday as the Dodgers celebrated the anniversary

of his heroics with a video tribute. “I’m just glad I was close enough to

do something about it.’’

Do something? Monday did plenty. And he vividly remembers every detail. He

was playing center field for the visiting Chicago Cubs when he noticed an unusual

buzz in the crowd. “Ballparks have their own personality, and all of a sudden the

personality of Dodger Stadium changed,” So Monday looked around, and that’s

when he noticed that two dolts had jumped the outfield fence and one of them was

carrying an American flag.

“Fortunately,” he said, “the first match blew out.” Monday arrived as the second

match was lit. He angrily shoved the amateur arsonists and snatched the flag

away. “You’re darn right, I was mad,” Monday said. “What they were trying to do

was wrong. It was wrong in 1976, and I still think it’s wrong today. And it’s wrong

for a lot of reasons. That flag represents all the rights and freedoms that we have

in this country. If you desecrate the flag, you desecrate the efforts of all the people

who fought and died to protect those rights and freedoms.

“I’m sure those feelings were reinforced by six years in the United States Marine

Corps Reserve, but I just couldn’t let that happen.’’

“I think it solidifed the thought process of hundreds of thousands of people who

represented this country in fine fashion.. many of whom lost their lives.” Rick

Monday

“It was a very heroic move on his part. The flag could have easily just burned

there until a couple ushers came out, but Rick acted, and i think we’re all very,

very happy that he did.” Steve Garvey

27


“It is not only the geographic pinnacle of baseball, it’s

the spiritual pinnacle as well.” Jim Caple, ESPN

28

(Danny Martin/ News-Miner)

Dietz Drying Field

Grandstands in 1967

Seating From Sick’s

The Alaska Goldpanners might never clinch

a national championship at Growden Memorial

Park, but still the park has been as much

a part of the Goldpanners story as anything

else. The Panners’ first game at the park

was on August 6th, 1961, making the 55-

year old facility eligible for state historical

site recognition this fall.

Located at the foot of the historic Second

Street in Fairbanks, Growden has been the

home of the Goldpanners since they moved

away from their first home, Griffin Park.

The ballpark, formerly known as Memorial

Park, was renamed in 1964. It was dedicated

to the memory of James Growden

who, along with his two sons, lost his life in

Valdez during the Good Friday Earthquake.

Growden was a graduate of Fairbanks High

School, a former teacher in the local school

system, and recognized throughout the state

for his work with young people. At the time of

his death Growden was a teacher and coach

at Valdez High School, although the day of

his death he was to be hired for teaching

and coaching work at Monroe High School

for the coming school year.

Additional history was added to the story

when, in 1964, it became the first outdoor

lighted sports facility in Alaska. The field

has hosted a number of state championship

games, and it was the site for the 1967 Babe

Ruth World Series. Also in 1967, Growden

Park was the site of Alaska’s largest-ever

sporting event, as over 5,000 fans watched

the Panners play Japan in the Midnight Sun

Game.

One of the stadium’s other claims to fame

in the baseball world was its use of original

seats from “Sick’s Seattle Stadium”, home of

the ill-fated Seattle Pilots. While in Seattle,

Growden dugout and bullpen benches were

used by many MLB Hall of Famers (including

Ted Williams and Rogers Hornsby), and

were used by other legends, such as Jim

Bouton and “The King”, Elvis Presley, during

a concert in 1957. Over the years, Growden

Memorial Park has been used by many hundreds

of eventual major leaguers, including

MLB Hall of Fame members Tom Seaver,

Dave Winfield, Ferguson Jenkins, Bobby

Doerr, Gaylord Perry. Harmon Killebrew, and

Bowie Kuhn.

James Growden

I was walkin' down the street on a sunny day

Hubba hubba hubba hubba hubba

A feeling in my bones that I'll have my way

Hubba hubba hubba hubba hubba!

Well I'm a happy boy (happy boy)

Well I'm a happy boy (happy boy)

Oh ain't it good when things are going your way,

Hey Hey?!

My little dog spot got hit by a car

Hubba hubba hubba hubba hubba

Put his guts in a box and put him in a drawer

Hubba hubba hubba hubba hubba

I forgot all about it for a month and a half

Hubba hubba hubba hubba hubba

I looked in the drawer and started to laugh

Hubba hubba hubba hubba hubba!

Well I’m a happy boy (happy boy) 2x

Oh ain’t it good when things are going your way? Hey Hey?!

Alaska Flag Song

Written by Marie Drake;

“Happy Boy”

By the Beat Farmers

Country Dick Montana

(1955-1995)

Sports Illustrated: “On the summer solstice the natural light

never dies out in Fairbanks, 160 miles south of the Arctic Circle,

and on this night Camacho, a California-raised righty, would

never leave the confines of Growden Memorial Park, where the

centerfield backdrop is the eight-starred Alaskan flag and Take

Me Out to the Ballgame is forsaken during the seventh-inning

stretch in favor of the Beat Farmers’ 1985 country-punk song

“Happy Boy”. Out with the peanuts and Cracker Jack, in with lyrics

about a dead dog in a drawer, as well as the most guttural refrain

ever to blare from a stadium speaker: “Hubba hubba hubba

hubba hubba!”

Eight stars of gold on a field of blue -

Alaska's flag. May it mean to you

The blue of the sea, the evening sky,

The mountain lakes, and the flow'rs nearby;

The gold of the early sourdough's dreams,

The precious gold of the hills and streams;

The brilliant stars in the northern sky,

The "Bear" - the "Dipper" - and, shining high,

The great North Star with its steady light,

Over land and sea a beacon bright.

Alaska's flag - to Alaskans dear,

The simple flag of a last frontier.

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