1964: First Game Ever Played in Alaska Under Lights

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*The lights have never been used during a Midnight Sun Game since their introduction in 1964

Eagles Rally in Ninth for 8-6 Win

June 19, 1964

A four-run ninth inning rally by Grand Junction gave the Eagles an 8-6 win over the Goldpanners last night and I evened the Midnight Sun series at 1-1.

The game was the first known game in Alaska ever played under artificial lights. Crews worked up to the last few minutes to have the lights in operation and when a cloud bank blocked the sun the lights were put on half way through the fourth inning. In past years such overcast skies frequently forced games to be called in the early innings.

The Eagles winning rally started with a walk to Summers, after which a deep fly to right field and two successive singles had brought in one run and left two men on with, only one out.

Sam Suplizio walked to load the bases and then Butch Thompson, who went four for five and drove in five Eagle runs, lined a single to left driving in the tying and go-ahead rums.

Suplizio came home from second with the final run on Bob Andrews’ single.

Skip Hancock who had pitched a good game for the Panners going into the ninth inning, seemed to tire and was getting behind the batters.  He hurt his own cause with two walks in the final inning.

See-Saw Contest

After taking a 1-0 lead in the first inning on a triple by Jim Sears and a single by Thompson, the teams see-sawed back and forth to the sixth when it was tied 4-4.

Graig Nettles, Goldpanner third sacker, who had hit a solo homer in the fourth to tie the game at 1-1, hit his second circuit blow of the game in the eighth with Hollowell on base to give the Panners what appeared to be a safe two-run lead.

Dick Atkinson, a former pro and the “old man” of the Eagle mound staff, kept the Panners off balance with a sharp curve and an assortment of pitches and change-ups.

Barry Lersch, first game loser, came in in the ninth to save the lead for the Eagles.  Atkinson had been removed in the top of the ninth for a pinch hitter.

Lersch opened by striking out pinch hitter Ron Dargo and then lead off man Dennis Smith to put the pressure on the Panners.

Gary Sutherland then drove a sharp grounder through the mound for a single.  Lersch tightened up and with a three and two situation on Bob Maxwell, caught the corner with a hook to set Maxwell down with the bat on his shoulder.

The teams meet tonight at 8:35 in the third game of the five-game series which winds up Saturday with the famous Midnight Sun Game starting at 10:30 p.m. and played without lights.

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