Alaskan native participates in 100th “Midnight Sun” game; jersey, cap heads to Hall of Fame
SAVANNAH, Ga. Sean Timmons has made a name for himself in the Alaskan Baseball League over the last nine years, after finishing his playing career at Armstrong Atlantic in 1998. A reliever for two seasons for the Pirates, Timmons pitched in 42 games and compiled a 10-2 record with a 3.85 ERA in 121.2 innings pitched and continued to live and work in the Savannah area after his collegiate playing days were done.
But each summer, the lure of pitching carried him back to his hometown of Fairbanks, Alaska, to pitch for the Alaska Goldpanners. An amateur league consisting of mostly college-age players, Timmons was a rarity in the Alaskan Baseball League: a veteran. The league consists of any player who isn’t under a professional contract and Timmons – who was told by the Cincinnati Reds that at the ripe old age of 25 he was ‘too old’ to sign after a tryout in 1999 – instead continued to pitch for the Goldpanners, getting better each season.
Despite being the three-time Most Valuable Pitcher in the league from 2002-04 and holding the Goldpanners career record for victories, Timmons elected not to pitch in 2005, instead focusing on his studies at South University in Savannah. He is studying to become a physician’s assistant and should complete the program in 2007.
But a call to come back and pitch in the annual “Midnight Sun” game in late June sent Timmons back to Alaska for a true moment in the sun.
“I was going to call the team up to see whether I could sit in the dugout for this game because I knew how crazy the ticket situation would be,” Timmons told ESPN.com. “But they called me … and asked whether I could throw for them. I haven’t pitched since the end of July but I said, ‘all right.'”
The “Midnight Sun” game, originated in 1906 as a bet between two bartenders in Fairbanks, is played under the Alaskan summer night sky without artificial lights. This year’s game featured the Goldpanners against the Omaha (Neb.) Strike Zone with a gametime of 10:30 p.m. Alaskan time.
This year’s version was special in more ways than one. It was the 100th anniversary of the Midnight Sun, and Timmons made the start for the Goldpanners, hurling five innings of four-hit, one-run ball while striking out seven to capture the win in a 3-1 victory. Timmons (3-0) is now the winningest pitcher in the Midnight Sun game’s history and after the contest was complete, his Goldpanners No. 33 jersey and cap were collected by a representative from the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y. The pair of articles are joining a collection called “Today’s Game” that features important items collected this season.
“I couldn’t get a higher honor,” Timmons told the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner after the game. Timmons also did interviews with ESPN.com, the Chicago Sun-Times and NY Newsday leading up to and following the contest.
One reward of his jersey and cap going into the Hall of Fame are lifetime passes to Cooperstown, which Timmons hopes to use this year to see the exhibit.
“I was making my third start in the Midnight Sun Game and I still had to stop, look around and take it all in,” Timmons told the Anchorage Daily News. “It gets better every time. It’s awesome. This one being the 100th, it’s even more special.”
He returned to Savannah after the “Midnight Sun” game and is back in classes at South University, but hasn’t ruled out a return to the league that made him a star, at least for one day. Part of his physician’s assistant studies include clinical rotations, which he may do next year in Fairbanks.
And if he does return to pitch for the Goldpanners, he can do it as a Hall of Famer.