Boucher, Dennis Span History
H.A. 'Red' Boucher founded the Goldpanners in 1960 under the sponsorship of his local sporting goods store. The team, then known as the Pan Alaska Goldpanners, joined the North of the Range League and used primarily local players but did have five young recruits from the University of Arizona.
Boucher, with a great assist from his wife Heida, virtually ran the club single-handedly from its inception through the first three seasons. But a big change came at the end of the '62 campaign when the Panners went to the National Baseball Congress Tournament and astounded all by staying in the competition. The need for funds to maintain the stay, an eventual second place finish, led to the community involvement which was to spawn today's organization.
After founding the team, Boucher managed the club through 1969, but after the 1967 season he turned over all duties associated with the team to current general manager Don Dennis. Dennis, summoned by Boucher from a newspaper post in Pueblo, CO, has been the organization's administrative leader since November of that year. more...
Goldpanners Through the Years
Fall 1959 - University of Alaska-Fairbanks basketball coach Ray Wheeler meets
with Fairbanks newcomer H.A. (Red) Boucher about sponsoring a team
in the North of the Range League. Local sports broadcaster
Bill Walley, later mayor of Fairbanks, becomes involved in
Spring 1960 - New North of the Range League team debuts as Pan
Alaska Goldpanners. Local players are buoyed by five freshman from
Coach Frank Sancet's University of Arizona team. Among those is
pitching stalwart George Mies, a resident of Alaska to this day.
August 1962 - Boucher takes his team to the National Baseball
Congress Tournament in Wichita, KS. Tournament founder Hap Dumont
seeds Panners 33rd in a 32-team field,
recognizing the promotional aspect of a team from Alaska. Panners
astound all finishing second to Wichita Dreamliners. Team members
build what is now Growden Park.
Spring 1963 - Boucher realizes to reach greater goals he must have
community support and forms an eight-man Board of Directors to help
raise funds and awareness. Among those who agree is Bill Stroecker
of First National Bank, who still serves as team President and also
attorney Charlie Cole, who became Chairman of the Board of Directors
in 2010. Others of
major importance to the rise of the team included Tom Miklautsch,
Wally Burnett and C.W. "Bill" Snedden, publisher of the Fairbanks
Daily News-Miner. Team name is changed to Alaska Goldpanners of
June 1963 - Wichita Dreamliners become the first "outside" team to
visit the Goldpanners and take part in the annual Midnight Sun Game
following their national championship win over the
Goldpanners in 1962.
July 1963 - Don Dennis of Grand Junction, CO, contacts Boucher about
scheduling the Goldpanners in the Colorado city en route to Wichita.
Contact came about when Dennis was visiting Basin League games in
Winner, S.D., and picked up a Sunday Omaha World Herald, which had
one paragraph story about Wichita team playing in something called
the Midnight Sun Game in Alaska.
August 1963 - Goldpanners stop at Grand Junction during the team's
first barnstorming trip to Wichita. Grand Junction manager Sam
Suplizio joins the Panners for the national
tournament and wins the Most Valuable Player award as Panners finish
June 1964 - Grand Junction Eagles become second outside team to play
in Midnight Sun Game. Growden Park is dedicated
by Alaska's first governor, Bill Egan. Growden is outfitted with a
lighting system and a Grand Junction-Goldpanners game becomes the
first lighted outdoor sporting event in Alaskan history. Grand
Junction's visit was on the heels of the Good Friday Earthquake and
a freak mid-June snowstorm in Fairbanks.
August 1964- Strong Goldpanners team just misses again in Wichita
with runnerup finish. Hall of Fame pitcher Tom Seaver is a mainstay
on Panners' staff, but suffers successive defeats in visit to Grand
Junction when a then unhearalded Frank Carbajal is imported by Don
October 3, 1964 - Dave Dowling becomes
the first Goldpanner to reach the major leagues of baseball.
In his debut with St. Louis, Dowling throws a scoreless
June 1965 - Rick Monday, an outfielder on the Goldpanners' 1964
team, makes history as the first player selected in the first ever
Major League Baseball player draft. Goldpanners place fourth at
August 1966 - Goldpanners represented USA in World Tournament in
Honolulu and claimed world title by beating Kumagai-Gumi, the World
Amateur Champions. While on the island, Goldpanners also won Hawaii
June 1967 - Japanese champion Kumagai-Gumi visits Fairbanks for
eight-game Midnight Sun series. Fairbanks wins 7 of 8, but loses the
annual sun game. MSG reports record 5,200 in attendance. Two games are played at Mulcahy
Park in Anchorage.
August 1967 - Chena River floods and Growden
destroyed. Grandstand and press box under construction is not
completed. Fairbanks was due to host the Babe Ruth World Series but
due to flood the event was relocated to Anchorage.
September 1967 - Following the devastating flood Boucher, now the
Mayor of Fairbanks, contacts Dennis in Colorado about coming to
Fairbanks to act as the chief operating
officer of the team while doubling as a sports editor at a new
newspaper, Jessen's Daily. Dennis arrives in Fairbanks the day after
Spring 1968 - Major reconstruction of Growden
Park is undertaken. The field was leveled by the flood and
all equipment lost. Team records were also lost.
Board member Barney Kopf heads the rebuilding effort.
July 1968 - Dennis agrees with Anchorage resident
Joe Keenan that the 1968 Alaska NBC Tournament can be staged in
Anchorage. Only two games are scheduled for the best-of-three series
and the Panners pound a group of local all-stars. Purpose, however,
was to raise funds and awareness for a competitive Anchorage team
and 5,000 turn out for the day.
August 1968 - Goldpanners make 17-day, 7-city
goodwill tour of Japan. Side trip tours Hiroshima.
June 1969 - Anchorage Glacier Pilots take the field. Chapman College
coach Paul Deese heads the effort.
August 1969 - Glacier Pilots squeeze past Goldpanners and win
Alaska's first NBC championship. In semifinals Pilots get only one
hit out of the infield (a two-run single
by Chris Chambliss) but still prevail 8-7.
Spring 1970 - Boucher steps aside as Goldpanners manager and is
honored at the annual Midnight Sun Game. Residents of Fairbanks
place thousands of signatures on a 40-foot scroll in his honor. Lyle
Olsen of San Diego State is named field manager and Jim Dietz of the
University of Oregon is enlisted as assistant coach.
August 1970 - Olsen resigns as Goldpanners manager and Dietz is
elevated to the position.
November 1970 - Boucher is elected Alaska's first Lieutenant
Governor (name change for the office from Secretary of State).
August 1971 - Anchorage wins second NBC title, edging Goldpanners
5-4. A freak bases-loaded play secures the game for the Pilots, who
featured future Cy Young winner
Randy Jones in the game. Future Hall of Fame player Dave Winfield
pitches and plays the outfield for the Goldpanners.
July 1972 - Goldpanners travel to Haarlem, Holland, to take part in
Honkbal Tournament, featuring the Cuba National Team. Cuba squeezes
in eighth inning run to beat Goldpanners and goes on to win the
August 1972 - Goldpanners break through under Dietz and win first
NBC championship as the team wins 30 of 37 games after Holland trip.
Championship game is won on seventh inning solo home run by catcher
Steve Swisher of Ohio University. University of San Diego's Kerry
Dineen is tourney MVP.
August 1973 - Goldpanners go back-to-back in Wichita with a 10-6 win
over Liberal, KS in title game. BYU's Lee Iorg is named tourney MVP
and he, Santa Clara's Gene Delyon, and Oklahoma's Kenny King blast
home runs in the rout. After Wichita the Panners win International
Tournament in Kamloops, B.C., Canada.
October 1973 - Dennis, Deese and Fairbanks attorney Ed Merdes visit
Kenai service clubs and elected officials with pitch for a third
Alaska team. Getting good response Deese
takes the lead in formation of the team by hiring Chapman coach Bob
June 1974 - Peninsula Oilers of Kenai debut in four-game series
hosting Goldpanners. Three teams band together for formation of
Alaska Baseball League. Emmett Ashford, Major League Baseball's
first black umpire, is head umpire and commissioner of the league.
August 1974 - Goldpanners make it a three-peat in
Wichita with the NBC championship, a 7-5 win over Boulder, CO,
Collegians. Second baseman Jeff Ellison of San Diego Mesa blasts a
fourth inning grand slam home run to set the pace. Outfielder Steve
Kemp of the University of Southern California is named tourney MVP.
September 1974 - Panners repeat as champions of the international
tournament in Kamloops. Pitcher Floyd Bannister of Arizona
State pulls the improbable feat of winning three games in one day on
the final day of the Kamloops event to secure the title. Powerful
team wins 62 games while breaking more than 100 team records and
hitting 135 home runs.
August 1975 - Goldpanners are beaten in the national championship
game by Boulder, CO, 6-4. Team goes three-in-a-row at International
Tournament in Kamloops. Stanford lefty
John Yandle in named MVP at Kamloops.
November 1975 - A meeting among Dennis, Merdes and Alaska State Fair
manager John Hale in Fairbanks leads to the formation of the fourth
Alaska League team to be known as the Valley Green Giants of Palmer.
Sen. Jan Koslosky of Palmer is only investor outside of Fairbanks.
June 1976 - Green Giants are managed by UCLA's Gary Adams and play
on home field at state fairgrounds only two months after start of
construction. Hermon Brothers Construction rescues wobbly effort and
field is named in its honor.
July 1976 - Goldpanners win the first National Invitational
Tournament in Pueblo, CO, by defeating no one less than the
fledgling Valley Green Giants. Giants had to dispose of
Colorado heavyweights Boulder and Grand Junction to make final game.
August 1976 - Goldpanners defeat Pilots in classic 10-inning, 2-0,
NBC championship game at Wichita. Panners' Greg Harris outduels
Pilots' Dan Boone in a true "game for the ages" as both had two-hit
shutouts through nine innings. Harris is named MVP of the national
en route to 15-win season, still the record for a Panners righthander.
Strong post-Wichita team wins fourth straight Kamloops
tournament due to a key error.
August 1977 - Goldpanners reach 7th consecutive national
championship game but lose in 11 innings to the Kenai Oilers. The
loss came despite having beating Kenai for the Alaska League title,
Alaska State Championship title, and NBC regional title in Pueblo,
CO. Kamloops changes dates of international tournament so
Goldpanners split squad makes a three-province road trip and claims
their fifth-straight Kamloops tourney to cap it off.
September 1977 - Alaska League teams agree to bypass Wichita in 1978
with Panners and Pilots joining to host a new tournament, dubbed
World Crown Tournament by Pilots' GM Jack Brushert.
January 1978 - Jim Dietz is forced to resign as manager of the
Goldpanners due to illness in the family. LaVerne College Coach Ben
Hines is named successor. He adds LA Valley College Coach Dave Snow
and former big league pitcher Dick Selma to his staff.
August 1978 - Goldpanners capture the first of five successive
Alaska League championships under Hines. Valley Green Giants are
surprise winners of the first World Crown
Tournament, which features an international field. Washington State
University Coach Charles "Bobo" Brayton leads Goldpanners split
squad into Kamloops event but team falls
August 1979 - Second World Crown Tournament is a huge success on the
field but week-long bad weather in Anchorage spells financial doom.
Brushert and Joe Armstrong of Anchorage also with Dennis and Les
Gunderson of Fairbanks, sign bank note to pay off nearly $35,000 in
losses for the two years of the tournament. Pilots and Kenai
withdraw from the Alaska League however Pilots and Panners continue
to work together to retire debt.
September 1979 - Lack of local support causes Goldpanners to
withdraw underwriting support of Palmer team. With the folding of
the Valley Green Giants the Alaska League, under Commissioner Emmitt
Wilson, admits new members the Cook Inlet Bucs of Anchorage and
North Pole Nicks.
June 1980 - Alaska League welcomes two new members in the Bucs,
managed by Dennis Mattingly, and the Nicks, managed by Jerry McClain
of Santa Clara, former manager of the Green Giants.
August 1980 - Goldpanners power to their fifth National Baseball
Congress championship in a decade (also runnerup three times and did
not participate twice) with an 8-4 victory
over Liberal, KS, and its pitching star, Oral Roberts' Mike Moore.
Center fielder Kevin McReynolds of the University of Arkansas is
named Most Valuable Player of team generally
regarded as the strongest in Goldpanners history.
September 1980 - North Pole caps off its first season by going to
Canada and winning the International Tournament. McClain's Nicks
lost the opening game before reeling off seven straight wins for the
title. The first year Nicks also distinguished themselves in winning
four games from Fairbanks as the Panners lost only nine times the
July 1981 - Goldpanners win fifth
straight league title. The streak would run to eight
September 1982 - Hines resigns as Goldpanners manager to accept a
position with the California Angels and Snow, Hines' assistant in
1978-79, is named manager. Snow named Cerritos College Coach George
Horton as his assistant.
August 1983 - Goldpanners win 6th straight Alaska League title and
finish second in the NBC Tournament, losing to Grand Rapids, MI, in
what was considered one of the biggest
upsets in team history. Team featured the "million dollar outfield"
of Oddibe McDowell, Shane Mack, and Mark Davis -- with Barry Bonds
forced to play first base due to the excess of talent.
August 1984 - Goldpanners win another Alaska League title,
straight, and finish third in national tournament. Snow resigns due
to pressure of his new position as head coach at Loyola Marymount
September 1985 - Tim Kelly -- former Panners assistant under Hines in
1980, along with Don Sneddon -- is named field manager. Kelly tabs
fellow ASU assistant Bill Schmidt as his assistant coach.
October 1985 - Panners' Dennis and Bucs' Mattingly visit Hawai'i
University Coach Les Murakama and Don Takaki of Hawai'i Island Movers
and Movers team is admitted to the Alaska League. Additionally,
WSU's Brayton applies for membership of a summer team to be known as
Palouse Empire Cougars and is admitted. League is divided into two
divisions with Pilots and Oilers along with emerging Mat-Su Miners
Spring 1986 - Kelly resigns to accept professional scouting job and
Dave Snow is renamed Panners manager with Mike Weathers, head coach
at Chapman College, to assist. Then in early June after leading
Loyola to its first College World Series appearance a tired Snow
decides to pass on Alaska and Weathers is promoted to head coach. He
picks Larry Corrigan and Mike Grahovac as assistants.
August 1986 - Goldpanners power way to only unbeaten slot in NBC
tourney but are upset 2-1 in 10 innings by Grand Rapids, MI.
Goldpanners split squad participates in U.S. Open Tournament in
Hawai'i with former Hines assistant Rick Oliver leading the team.
October 1986 - Goldpanners announce they will forgo the Wichita
tournament and only take part in the U.S. Open for 1987.
August 1987 - In a stunning setback, Japanese champion team scores
five times in the bottom of the ninth inning to snatch U.S. Open
title in Honolulu.
Fall 1987 - Anchorage Bucs announce they will take 1988 season off
Spring 1988 - On May 17, the Mat-Su Miners announce it cannot
operate in 1988 due to financial problems. Three days later the
Anchorage Glacier Pilots also fold for the 1988 season. The day after that the North Pole Nicks shut down
operations. The schedule is quickly revised as only Kenai and
Fairbanks remain in the league from Alaska. The Palouse
Empire Cougars of Washington State and Hawai'i had been added and the San Francisco Senators were
quickly added to set up a five-team race.
June 1988 - Bret Boone becomes the all-time first
second generation Goldpanner. His father Bob played in 1966-67-68
and was voted the most popular Goldpanner ever.
August 1988 - Goldpanners march unbeaten to the championship of the
U.S. Open Championship in Lake Tahoe, CA. Former Panner and major
league star Dave Kingman opposes Panners in title game and blasts
home run in 12-2 loss.
September 1988 - Weathers resigns as field manager after successful
three-year run. Former Panner player Pat Harrison, coach of The
Master's College, is named field manager. He selects Gary Henderson,
head coach at Chapman College, as his chief assistant.
Spring 1989 - Bucs, Pilots and Miners return to
Alaska League. North Pole fields team but does not compete for
August 1989 - Strong-starting Panners (22-5 on July 5) falter in
finals of U.S. Open. Harrison leaves team and Jim Dietz is rehired
to take over the Panner team he last managed in 1977.
August 1990 - Panners win U.S. Open Tournament in Ontario, CA. Jason
Giambi leads club with .377 average.
August 1991 - Panners cruise to title of first National Shootout
Tournament at Amarillo, TX. The 47-14 team settles for second place
at U.S. Open in Carson City, NV. Bill Dunckel and Todd Pridy battle for batting crown, Dunckel winning
with an even .400 average (Pridy .398).
January 1992 - Tom Seaver becomes the first Goldpanner elected to
the MLB Hall of Fame, becoming the all-time leading percentage
leader, receiving 98.84% of the vote.
July 1992 - Goldpanners suffer first losing season
since inception when 11 games against inferior opponents are
cancelled at the end of the season.
Spring 1993 - Alaska teams agree to informal
association of teams to play like number of games in Alaska
August 1993 - Panners organize new post-season event in San Diego,
known as the Grand National Tournament. Panners dispose of Ukraine
National Team but lose title game of to San Diego Stars.
Spring 1994 - Dietz ends 11-year managerial stint
with the team. Dietz posts 485 victories and captures four NBC
titles along with two U.S. Opens, National Invitational Tournament,
and National Shootout titles along with five Kamloops International
Tournament wins, making him the most successful manager ever at the
highest levels of amateur ball. Rick Baumann, coach at
Treasure Valley College in Oregon, named to head team.
August 1994 - Panners again finish second in Grand
National Tournament. Baumann leaves as field manager and is
succeeded by former Panner player Stacey Parker.
August 1996 - Goldpanners finish second in
International Tournament at Kelowna, B.C., Canada but suffer second
losing season in team history.
February 1997 - Former big league coach Don Leppert
is named to replace Parker. Former Milwaukee Brewers mound ace
Dwight Bernard is named pitching coach.
August 1997 - Talented team finishes second at
Kelowna. Leppert departs and former Panner player and North
Pole Manager Dan Cowgill is selected to head team into new century.
November 1997 - Mattingly, Dennis and Jack Slama,
Teamsters Union official, huddle in Seattle airport hotel and hammer
out agreement to Kenai, Pilots and Miners rejoin the Alaska League
as full members.
August 2000 - Goldpanners return to NBC Tournament
in Wichita but are eliminated in two straight games. Cowgill
resigns and is replaced by Chris Jones, coach at San Antonio
February 2001 - Dave Winfield became the second
Goldpanners elected to the MLB Hall of Fame, leading all voting with
84.5% of the vote. Mentions Fairbanks experience during his
June 2001 - Goldpanners represented by two first-round draft picks
in the amateur draft. Aaron Heilman (98) is drafted 18th overall by
the Mets, and Bobby Crosby (99) is taken 25th overall by the
August 2001 - Jones leads Panners to co-championship
of Alaska Invitational Tournament but leaves the Panners and highly
successful Lewis-Clark State College coach Ed Cheff is named
August 2002 - Cheff caps off his first season
leading the Panners to the team's record sixth National Baseball
Congress championship, beating the Anchorage Pilots, who the
Goldpanners edged by one-half game to win the Alaska League.
The Goldpanners beat the Pilots twice in the tournament on the
strength of two come-from-behind victories, including the title
game. Blake Gill of LSU is named MVP of Wichita Tourney.
"The Goldpanners are the Yankees of the NBC" - Bob Lutz
August 2003 - Strong Goldpanners team repeats as
Alaska champion and knocks off rugged Republic of China National
Team in the NBC Tournament 5-4, but it is the only loss for the
Chinese as they rebound to sweep to the NBC championship.
August 2004 - Unbelievable Alaska League race goes
into the final day of the season with four teams in the running.
Panners win outright with a victory but lose to Mat-Su and due to
tie-breaking rules wind up fourth with Mat-Su and Bucs tying for the
June 2005 - Fairbanks product Sean Timmons lands in
Major League Baseball Hall of Fame by pitching and winning his third
Midnight Sun Game in the 100th renewal of the event. Panners
dominate the Alaska League but settle for fourth place in NBC
Spring 2007 - Ed Cheff decides not to return to
Fairbanks and in mid-March former Panner player Tim Gloyd, coach at
Yuba College, is named to head Goldpanners.
June 21, 2007 - The Goldpanners 14-year
Midnight Sun Game winnings streak snapped by the Oceanside,
CA, Waves - a club managed by Fairbanksan Mike Studer.
August 2007 - Gloyd and Panners make strong run at
end of the season to place third in the Alaska League.
Spring 2008 - Gloyd returns to head team as Panners
launch 49th consecutive season playing north of the range.
June 21, 2008 - Bill "Spaceman" Lee
returns to Fairbanks to avenge his 1967 Midnight Sun Game
loss. Wins epic contest to even record at 1-1.
During stay, Lee refers to Goldpanners as "the number one
team in amateur baseball history."
July 12, 2009 - Jim Dietz skippers the
Goldpanners to three wins in a single day (for the second
time) to capture the Kamloops International Baseball
Tournament. It is the sixth KBIT championship for the
Panners, which ties their number of tourney titles at the
NBC World Series - a record number for both events (which
still stands). Barnstorming tour finishes in Wichita,
Kansas for ceremonial opening game of the 75th NBC World
Summer 2010: Jim Dietz returns to
Fairbanks for his 13th year with the club. The
Stroecker/Dennis management team enters its 43rd (and final)
year in charge of team operations.
Winter 2010-2011: Seven key members
of the Goldpanners organization perish during the club's
darkest winter season. The "Sacred Seven" represented
a major part of team operations: William G. Stroecker
(46-year team president - son of Midnight Sun Game founder -
"Five Decade Man"); Robert Francis (team salesman); Al Hines
(longtime board member and host parent); Dave Swanson
(all-time greatest supporter); Mike Lawless (board member);
J. Michael Carroll (longtime supporter); Sam Woodke (Gaming
Summer 2011: Goldpanners embark on West
Coast barnstorming trip, playing down the Interstate 5
corridor to great reception.
Summer 2012: Jim Dietz compiles his 15th
winning season with the Goldpanners. Retires as the
winningest coach in summer baseball history.
2013: Three pennants solidify the club's
reputation as undisputed champions. The first
championship was at the Barona Bash Invitational Tournament
in San Diego. Once in Alaska, a Fairbanks record of 22
wins and 4 losses catapulted the Goldpanners to the Alaska
Baseball League regular season championship. The ABL
"Top of the World" Series title was also taken by the club,
as they swept the Anchorage Glacier Pilots in Anchorage.
2014: The 55th season of Goldpanners
baseball resulted in a repeat of the ABL championship, along
with the American Division championship. The Alaska
"Top of the World Series" was won with a sweep of the Mat-Su
Miners. The Panners rode into Wichita, KS, for the
80th NBC World Series, finally being eliminated in 7th place
nationwide by Fairbanksan Mike Studer's Oceanside (CA)
ALL-TIME WIN/LOSS RECORD
THRU 2014: TOTAL GAMES (3,017); WINS (1,978); LOSSES (1,039)
ALL-TIME WINNING PERCENTAGE: 65%
SEASON BY SEASON RESULTS