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Midnight Ballgame June 21st, 1908

"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

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

"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


 

THE MIDNIGHT SUN GAME:
"BASEBALL'S MOST NATURAL PROMOTION"


2006 MSG

In the entire baseball world, there is no team that has more natural a promotion than the Alaska Goldpanners and their celebrated Midnight Sun Game.

Since the Goldpanners are the farthest north baseball club on the face of the earth, where in summer the sun rarely stops shining, the team annually takes advantage of its unique geographic location by staging the patented Midnight Sun Baseball Game.

With Fairbanks a mere 160 miles south of the Arctic Circle, the sun is just beginning to set in the north as the game 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.

Each June 20, 21, 22, each equal in time as the longest day of the year (with a full 24 hours of daylight in the vast Tanana Valley), the Panners begin their widely acclaimed contest at 10:30 p.m. The game continues straight through the hour of midnight and often lasts as late as 2 a.m.

Never once has artificial lighting been used for this unique event, and never has the game been postponed or delayed because of darkness.

The "high noon at midnight" classic, as best can be determined, originated in Fairbanks in 1906. Every year since it has become a ritual to play the game on the solstice.

The tradition was adopted by the Panners in 1960, their first season of operation. Through 1962, the Panners met the North of the Range All-Stars but, since 1963, a different opponent - usually from out of state - has been invited each year to participate in the symbolic event. 

 “To be able to represent the Great Lakes League and the Great Lakes region in the Midnight Sun game is one of the greatest opportunities our organization will have ever taken part in” - Jim DeSana, the Monarchs General Manager

Each games adds some new thrilling chapter to the hundred-year-old tradition. 

 One of the Goldpanners' most dramatic classics ever came in 1991 when the Panners' Brett Backlund drilled a bottom of the 9th inning home run to provide a come-from-behind win over the South Lake Tahoe, Ca, Stars.

In the 2000 Midnight Sun Game, the Goldpanners defeated the Santa Barbara Foresters in one of the most exciting midnight contests ever.    Former Goldpanners Most Valuable Pitcher Dan Grimm (71-72-73) was on hand to throw out the first pitch.

Each year since the turn of the century has seen the excitement surrounding each game increase dramatically.   The 2000, 2001 and 2002 games were all won by the Goldpanners in their final at-bat.

With the 100th year of observation approaching, another grand chapter to the lore surrounding the game was added through the emergence of Goldpanners pitcher Sean Timmons.   Timmons was the Midnight Sun Game winner in both 2002 and 2004, his two wins tying him with three others for most wins in Midnight Sun Game history.   Sean also started and won in  2005 - the 100th Midnight Sun Game - to become the all-time winningest pitcher in the solstice classic's history.   Accordingly, the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum sought out Sean after the game for exhibit submissions.    Sean ended up donating his hat, jersey and glove to commemorate his historic achievement.

In 2006, the high drama continued as the Goldpanners captured the win in their final at-bat yet again.  The 2007 contest saw the Goldpanners' 14 year winning streak snapped by the Oceanside, CA, Waves.   Waves founder and manager Mike Studer, a Fairbanks native, led his club to a convincing 6-1 win in front of over 4,000 fans.

One of the finest games in the 103 year history of the event was played in 2008.  Bill "Spaceman" Lee - a longtime major league pitcher and alum from the 1966-67 Panners - returned to Fairbanks to avenge his loss in the 1967 Midnight Sun Game.  Though 61 years old, Lee was able to stymie the college-aged competition over six innings pitched.   Through fantastic defensive heroics, the Goldpanners were able to preserve the win for Lee, who waited 41 years for redemption.  With over 4,900 fans in attendance in 2008, Bill secured both the first and second largest crowds ever to witness a Midnight Sun Game.  In 1967, as Bill faced Kumagai-Gumi Japan, an all-time record crowd of 5,200 was on hand to witness the Japanese victory.

The 2008 Goldpanners Team Baseball Card Set commemorates his historic achievement.

In 2009 the Goldpanners were handed a rare defeat at the hands of the Oceanside, CA, Waves - led by Fairbanksan Mike Studer.   The Waves are set to appear in Fairbanks again in 2011, giving the Goldpanners a chance for some redemption of their own.

The 105th Midnight Sun Game, in 2010, was one of the finest in memory.   A 15-inning marathon between the Goldpanners and the U.S. Military "Heroes of the Diamond" came down to some intense action and a critical injury.    The emotion released at the outcome had been pent up since the brilliant pre-game show.     Special dignitary was Norm Jenkins, a longtime Goldpanners player host, and 100% disabled veteran of Korea and Vietnam.  Footage of this awe-inspiring event is available via PannerVision.

The 106th playing of the MSG will be remembered as one of the wildest in the tradition's history.   With the game knotted up in the 11th inning, gale force winds combined with dark clouds and pounding rain -- causing the umpires to postpone the game for the first time in its history.  When play resumed at 6:00 pm, the Goldpanners promptly scored the winning run, defeating the Oceanside, CA, Waves.

On June 21, in 2014, the Goldpanners will host their 55th solstice classic - over one-half of all 109 games played.   As always, play will be stopped at the half-inning nearest midnight for the traditional singing of the Alaska Flag Song. 

1965 Midnight Sun Game Ends Dramatically with a Strikeout
Tom Seaver
(64-65) vs. John Herbst (64 d. 10/2009)

 

 


Uniforms from the Van Dycks and Marquettes

US Senator Mark Begich
Letter of congratulations to Goldpanners GM Don Dennis on induction of Midnight Sun Game to the AK Sports Hall of Fame.

 

 

 

PANNERS SUN GAME HISTORY CARDSET (2005)




SPACEMAN GAME CARDSET (2008)