Baseball’s Most Natural Promotion

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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 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.

On June 21, in 2017, the Goldpanners will host their 58th solstice classic.   As always, play will be stopped at the half-inning nearest midnight for the traditional singing of the Alaska Flag Song.  

2017 TICKETS AVAILABLE SOON

FACTS & FIGURES

  • EVENT: 2017 will see the 112th playing of the Midnight Sun Baseball Game (1906-2017).   Though the game is played through the hour of midnight, artificial lights are never used — and have never been used in the history of the event.  Summer Solstice is the longest day of the year, and provides nearly continuous light throughout the evening in Fairbanks, which is 150 miles south of the arctic circle.  This phenomenon is very rare, and cannot be experienced in Anchorage.  The light fades towards the middle of the game, but usually returns by the end of the game.

  • LOCATION: Growden Memorial Park in Fairbanks, Alaska ; Roughly 3 miles from the airport.  View in Google Earth (Save) ; View in Google Maps
     

  • DATE: The game will be started on June 21st.

  • TIME: The game will begin at 10:30 (usually ends 1:30-2:00 a.m.)

  • HOME TEAM: The Alaska Goldpanners of Fairbanks have hosted the Midnight Sun Game since 1960.  The Panners have sent over 200 players to the majors, including Tom Seaver, Dave Winfield and Barry Bonds.  Before the Goldpanners took over the tradition in 1960, various local and military teams were featured in the contest.

  • VISITORS: The visiting team will be announced

  • TICKETS: Gates open at 9:00 pm.  Early entry tickets provide 8:00 pm admittance.

  • LODGING: There are hotels in the area, but they tend to fill up fast.  The Super 8 on Airport is the closest.

  • AWARDS: To be announed

  • DIGNITARIES: To be announed

  • SPECIAL EVENTS: The game is stopped at midnight for the singing of the Alaska Flag Song; Anthem and Flag Song to be performed by Shellyann Thibedeau

  • HISTORY: The baseball tradition began in 1906 as a bar bet between the Eagle’s Club and the California Bar, led by “Father of the Midnight Sun Game” Eddie Stroecker.

    • The game is a celebration of the summer solstice, and is a Fairbanks holiday.

    • In 2005, Fairbanks native Sean Timmons became the all-time winningest pitcher in MSG history.  With his save in 2009, his record is now 3 wins, 0 losses, and 1 save.   Immediately after the game in 2005, Sean’s No. 33 jersey was shipped to the Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, N.Y. ; Sean earned the save in the 2009 Midnight Sun Game.

    • In 2008, Bill “Spaceman” Lee avenged a 1967 loss in the Midnight Sun Game by posting a win against the SoCal Runnings Birds