If there’s one man responsible for making baseball in Alaska what it is today, it’s H.A. “Red” Boucher.
Boucher founded the Alaska Goldpanners of Fairbanks in 1960 under the sponsorship of the sporting goods store he owned in Fairbanks. The team, then known as the Pan Alaska Goldpanners, joined the North of the Range League.
The first team used primarily local players, but had five young recruits from the University of Arizona. The roster stayed like that until the Panners were gearing up for the National Baseball Congress World Series in 1962. Boucher did his first wholesale importing of top collegiate talent in 1963.
Under his leadership, Boucher guided the Goldpanners to a 337-118 record in 10 seasons. Although they never won an NBC national championship during his tenure, the Panners never finished lower than fourth place in Wichita. They went on to win seven NBC titles, more than any other team in the history of the event.
A promoter by nature, Boucher once had a live bear in the dugout with the Goldpanners in Wichita. Another of his promotions was making the Goldpanners the home team for the Midnight Sun Baseball Game — a game that is on the Baseball Hall of Fame’s list of 10 “Must See” games.
Boucher managed more than 30 players who went on to play in the Major Leagues. Among them are Tom Seaver, Bob Boone, Dave Kingman and Jimmy Williams.
Because of Boucher’s dedication, the Alaska Baseball League was formed in the early 1970s. It has grown to six teams and still provides top-notch baseball action for Alaskans throughout the summer.
– Bob Eley