Today I have Todd Dennis answering a few questions. Todd is the GM of the Alaska Goldpanners of Fairbanks. Thanks for taking some time Todd.
My pleasure. Thank you for shining a light on the Alaska Goldpanners – it has one of the most remarkable team histories in all of baseball.
The Alaska Goldpanners of Fairbanks is an amateur baseball team that has been in operation for 54 years. Started in the northernmost city in the American continent, the club plays its home season in Fairbanks, Alaska — a mere 150 miles from the Arctic Circle. As a summer collegiate baseball team, our players are imported from the best colleges around the nation.
Over the years, the team has had a massive impact on the game of baseball, and has won more state, national, and international championships than any other non-professional squad. Boston Red Sox hall of famer Bill “Spaceman” Lee called the club “the number one team in amateur baseball history.”
– Please tell us more about yourself.
I’ve been working for the Goldpanners since 1981, while still just a boy. My duties started with hawking hot dogs in the stands, then progressed all the way to the General Manager position which I currently hold. Running the world-famous club is a great deal of work, and the carefree days of being a simple fan of the team are long gone; however, it has been a very rewarding career so far — particularly having been a part of the Midnight Sun Game tradition for so many years.
– What’s the Midnight Sun game?
On every summer solstice, due to the city’s location so close to the Arctic Circle, the Fairbanks area becomes drenched in sunlight. On June 21st, we celebrate the abundance of light by playing a ballgame that plays through the hour of midnight — never using artificial light. The tradition began in 1906, and the Goldpanners have hosted the event since 1960 — which marks the exact half-way point in the game’s history. Typically, teams from the “Lower 48” are imported for the game, although many times national teams from around the world have participated.
– The Goldpanners have quite a list of players who played in the Majors. Who were some of the greats?
Our two Goldpanners in the Hall of Fame are Tom Seaver and Dave Winfield. Barry Bonds will also make it into Cooperstown at some point. Besides those who have made a mark in the major leagues of baseball, there are a number who forged remarkable careers in college baseball. Phil Stephenson (80-81) was named the greatest college baseball player of the 20th century, for instance. Other greats have changed the face of the game, despite not having hall of fame careers. The best example is Andy Messersmith, the first true free agent in the major leagues.
– Tell us about the 1983 team. It’s been said that was the best Goldpanner team.
Having served as the bat boy for the 1983 Goldpanners club, I would tend to agree that it is the all-time best. No less than fourteen players ascended to Major League Baseball from that team, including Barry Bonds. Our outfield corps (Shane Mack, Oddibe McDowell, Mark Davis) were dubbed the “million dollar outfield” for their great talent. That outfield crew was so spectacular that Barry Bonds was forced to play first base — where he excelled!
– If you were to have an All-Star team of Goldpanners who would they be?
With so many historically significant players on our all-time roster, it is very difficult to settle on the best nine. Going with the greatest achievers in Major League Baseball, our all-time all star team would look something like this:
Pitchers : Tom Seaver (R; 64-65); Bill Lee (L; 66-67)
Catcher : Bob Boone (66-67-68)
1st Base : Jason Giambi (90)
2nd Base : Harold Reynolds (80)
Shortstop: Brendan Ryan (02)
3rd Base : Graig Nettles (64-65)
Outfield : Dave Winfield (71-72)
Outfield : Barry Bonds (83)
Outfield : Rick Monday (64)
Thanks for taking time Todd.
Check out the Goldpanners at www.goldpanners.com