SITTIN’ IN With the Athletes
June 19, 1964, Des Moines (Iowa) Register
A 4,000-MILE trip – Fairbanks, Alaska, to Omaha, Neb. – brought two baseball enthusiasts, H.A. (Red) Boucher and Miss Suzy Marlin, to the College World Series.
They came not so much to see the games as to promote the Alaska Goldpanners baseball team, to recruit college players for it, and to call attention to the annual Midnight Sun Game, which will start late Sunday night and end soon after midnight Monday.
Boucher, who served in the Navy for 20 years, is a sports goods dealer in Fairbanks, a member of the city council and manager of the Goldpanners.
Miss Marlin, queen of the Midnight Sun Game, wears a crown of ivory made from walrus tusks on “state” occasions. A fourth-generation Alaskan, she is a Miss Universe candidate and a baseball fan who scores or charts every game she attends.
THE MIDNIGHT Sun game is unique in that it is played during the night hours without the aid of artificial lights.
This is possible because the sun at Fairbanks shines almost 24 hours each day from May 15 to late August. The temperature is said to range from 75 to 82 degrees during that period.
The game, in its 58th year, starts at 10:30 p.m., but is interrupted at midnight for a ceremony during which eight gold rockets, representing the eight stars in the Alaska flag, are fired.
The stars are for the seven real stars in the big dipper, plus the north star.
The contest is preceded by coronation of the queen, Eskimo dances, blanket tossing and other events.
AT OMAHA, Boucher was lining up players for the Goldpanners, who will play in a league during the summer months against some of the leading team’s in last year’s Non-Pro tournament at Wichita, Kan.
“This venture has had and still has the sanction of the National Collegiate Athletic Association,” Boucher explained.
“We pay the expenses of the players both ways to Fairbanks and get them jobs that pay from $300 to $550 a month, depending on the type of work the boy does.
“The heavier work pays the best and the boys have to be on the job, too. There are no free rides.”
PRIOR to this year the Goldpanners played in the North of The Range League with teams from military bases. But this summer they are importing teams for competition.
They will play five games each on consecutive weeks with the Grand Junction (Colo.) Eagles, Wichita Service Auto Glass, Eureka, Cal.; Grand Rapids, Mich.; and Bellingham, Wash.
“Those teams will travel 30,000 miles,” Boucher said. “In addition we’ll meet the Seattle Raniers of the Pacific Coast League July 20 and hope to arrange a game with the U.S. Olympic team.”
THE GOLDPANNERS were runnersup in the Wichita tournament in 1961 and finished third last year.
“The first year we went to Wichita we raised $14,000 to finance the trip, but since then we’ve taken in enough money at our games to pay expenses there, improve our park and help with youth baseball,” Boucher explained.
“We charge $30 for season boxes, $25 for season tickets and $2 general admission. Children get in free.”
Boucher, who had managed teams while in the navy, said that when he went to Fairbanks six years ago his objective was “to expose every boy to baseball.”
“We have a population of 14,000 in the city, 30,000 including the military bases, and 2,500 participate in baseball.
“We had eight freshmen from the University of Arizona on our first team in 1958 and won the league title and the playoffs.
“Five of the original team make their homes in Fairbanks.”