Alaska Goldpanners

From BR Bullpen


Team History[edit]

Founded in 1960 as an independent barnstorming team, the Pan-Alaska Goldpanners became charter members of the Alaska Baseball League at the league's inception in 1974. As the nation's most elite Summer Collegiate Baseball team, the Goldpanners play their home games at Growden Memorial Park in Fairbanks, AK. They also host the annual Midnight Sun Baseball Game, one of the most quirky and unique games in all of baseball.

Dozens of future major leaguers have played for the Goldpanners (see below).

Like other Summer Collegiate Baseball teams, the Alaska Goldpanner of Fairbanks are dedicated and designed to providing minor league level competition for NCAA players that wish to continue on into professional baseball. The Goldpanners operate in a similar manner to a minor league team: playing nightly in stadiums before fans, using wood bats and minor league specification equipment, and experiencing road trips between games. Like all other summer collegiate players, they are unpaid in order to maintain their NCAA eligibility, and live with host families in the same manner as Single A and Independent League players.

The Alaska Goldpanners gained fame worldwide in the early 1960s as runners-up in the 1962 National Baseball Congress World Series. The curiosity of being the only team from the Last Frontier endeared them to many in the Lower 48, giving them almost cult status among baseball fans. However, when the Anchorage Glacier Pilots were founded in the 1969, the Goldpanners became one of two teams from the state of Alaska. Officially, the team became the "Alaska Goldpanners of Fairbanks" in 1963. Within the ABL, and in television and newspaper coverage throughout the state, the Goldpanners are referred to as the "Fairbanks Goldpanners". Outside the state of Alaska they are still commonly known as the "Alaska Goldpanners".

Over the years, the club has amassed numerous distinctions. Besides the unprecedented number of tournament championships, the Goldpanners stand alone in amateur baseball history in a number of categories of interest. With alumni involved in all levels of baseball (and with representation in NFL football in the person of Dan Pastorini), Goldpanners are to be found throughout the sporting world. In 2008, former Goldpanner Bill "Spaceman" Lee returned to Fairbanks to avenge a loss in the 1967 Midnight Sun Game. During his time with the club, which included a win for Lee in the Midnight Sun Game, Bill declared that the Goldpanners were "the number one amateur baseball organization in history."

On July 5, 2009, the Goldpanners embarked on one of their most ambitious projects ever: barnstorming across two provinces in Canada and 10 states in America as a part of the "Alaska 50 Tour". On July 12th, the Fairbanks split squad, known as the "Midnight Sun Goldpanners", took the crown at the Kamloops International Baseball Tournament. Their final destination was the ceremonial opening game for the 75th National Baseball Congress World Series in Wichita, KS.

Team Eccentricities[edit]

First held in 1906, the annual Midnight Sun Game is held yearly in Fairbanks, AK and hosted by the Alaska Goldpanners. The game, which begins at 10:30 PM on the night of the summer solstice, has gained the attention of international media, and is one of the oddest and most unique features of baseball the world over.

In 2008, Bill "Spaceman" Lee avenged his loss in the 1967 contest by defeating the Southern California Running Birds 10-6. Bill started the game and delivered 6+ innings of successful work on the mound at age 62.

Baseball America declared the game one of the "10 Must-See Baseball Events." In 2005, ESPN spotlighted the game during "50 States in 50 Days." ESPN The Magazine called the event the "#8 Ultimate Baseball Experience." The Sporting News declared that on the 21st of June, "Fairbanks is the Baseball Capital of America". GQ Magazine dubbed the Midnight Sun Game one of the top 75 reasons to be proud to be an American.

Selected Quotes:

On the Midnight Sun Game:

"The only place on earth where a midnight ball game is played. The custom originated here many years ago and is faithfully observed." 6/20/1914, Fairbanks Daily News-Miner

"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." Greg Harris, National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum

"What began nearly 100 years ago on a bet between two local bars has evolved into one of baseball’s unique natural events. The Midnight Sun Game, played in Fairbanks on the summer solstice every year since 1906, is played in the middle of the night with only natural light." - Baseball America's 12 'Must-See' Events

"Everybody should have an opportunity to come to Alaska and see the Midnight Sun Game" Bobby Doerr, MLB Hall of Famer

On the Goldpanners program:

"I played with the Alaska Goldpanners, which has a lot of history with good ballplayers, so that looked good to a lot of scouts. Players like Tom Seaver and Bob Boone played up there before me. It was nice playing up there, a honor because so many great ballplayers played there." Harold Reynolds (1980)

"I just feel so very grateful to have played for the Goldpanners, and to have been given the opportunity to experience such a number of rewarding times." Bob Boone (1966-1968)

On other topics:

"Nobody in our organization had a harsh word to say about Barry Bonds. He was exemplary and he was just an average college kid. He had a tremendous sense of humor, too." Don Dennis, Goldpanners GM

Year-by-Year Record[edit]

Year Record Manager Post Season
1960 11-7 Red Boucher
1961 12-4 Red Boucher
1962 24-7 Red Boucher NBC Runner Up
1963 45-12 Red Boucher NBC 3rd Place
1964 33-19 Red Boucher NBC Runner Up
1965 38-19 Red Boucher NBC 4th Place
1966 50-13 Red Boucher
1967 45-10 Red Boucher NBC 4th Place
1968 37-11 Red Boucher
1969 38-19 Red Boucher NBC 4th Place
1970 38-19 Lyle Olsen NBC 4th Place
1971 38-19 Jim Dietz NBC Runner Up
1972 40-20 Jim Dietz NBC Champions
1973 49-17 Jim Dietz NBC Champions
1974 60-20 Jim Dietz NBC Champions
1975 51-17 Jim Dietz NBC Runner Up
1976 56-26 Jim Dietz NBC Champions
1977 48-30 Jim Dietz NBC Runner Up
1978 41-28 Ben Hines
1979 45-21 Ben Hines
1980 43-9 Ben Hines NBC Champions
1981 26-18 Ben Hines NBC 4th Place
1982 40-17 Ben Hines NBC 7th Place
1983 38-19 Dave Snow NBC Runner Up
1984 42-23 Dave Snow NBC 3rd Place
1985 41-25 Timothy Kelly NBC 3-2
1986 39-23 Mike Weathers NBC 4th Place
1987 40-19 Mike Weathers
1988 46-21 Mike Weathers
1989 30-22 Pat Harrison
1990 37-20 Jim Dietz
1991 47-14 Jim Dietz
1992 22-25 Jim Dietz
1993 36-23 Jim Dietz
1994 36-19 Rick Baumann
1995 33-18 Stacey Parker
1996 24-30 Stacey Parker
1997 38-18 Don Leppert
1998 31-25 Dan Cowgill
1999 24-21 Dan Cowgill
2000 28-20 Dan Cowgill NBC 0-2
2001 26-27 Chris Jones
2002 38-19 Ed Cheff NBC Champions
2003 38-17 Ed Cheff NBC 6th Place
2004 29-16 Ed Cheff
2005 39-12 Ed Cheff NBC 7th Place
2006 21-22 Ed Cheff
2007 23-20 Tim Gloyd
2008 18-20 Tim Gloyd
2009 34-40 Tim Gloyd
2010 34-15 Jim Dietz
2011 27-8 Jim Dietz
2012 25-22 Jim Dietz
2013 35-17-3 Bryan Harris ABL Champions
2014 33-9 Mike Grahovac NBC 6th Place
2015 14-33 Jeff Stephens
2016 23-14 Timothy Kelly NBC Quarter-Final
2017 29-9 Dave Nakama
2018 27-12-1 Miles Kizer
2019 31-12 Miles Kizer NBC Quarter-Final
2021 32-15 Anthony Ferro

Notable Goldpanners Alumni[edit]

Related Links[edit]