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The Midnight Sun Baseball Game began more than 100 years ago, inspired by a bet between two local bars. It has become one of Alaska’s most hallowed traditions.
In the entire baseball world, no team has a more natural promotion than the Alaska Goldpanners of Fairbanks and the annual Midnight Sun Game.
Played on the June 21 summer solstice, with the first pitch at 10:30 p.m. at Growden Memorial Park, the game is played in its entirety without the benefit of artificial lights.
With Fairbanks a mere 160 miles south of the Arctic Circle, the sun is just beginning to set in the north as the game begins.
When it ends about three hours later, the sun is rising, also in the north. The “High Noon at Midnight Classic” was first played in 1906 and attracted local teams until the Goldpanners picked up the tradition during their inaugural season in 1960 under the direction of Alaska Sports Hall of Famer Red Boucher.
Teams from all over the world, including Japan in 1967 and Taiwan in 1984, have played in it, and so have some of the game’s greatest players, including Hall-of-Famers Tom Seaver and Dave Winfield.
One of the game’s traditions is the break that comes in the half-inning closest to midnight so the crowd can join in a rousing rendition of the Alaska Flag Song. The Midnight Sun Game is considered a must-see event for true baseball fans and it attracts spectators from throughout the Lower 48 and the world.
Each year, 4,000 to 5,000 people pack into the friendly confines of Growden Park for baseball’s most unique game.
Nowhere in baseball is there anything quite like the Midnight Sun Baseball Game, a phenomenon as rare as a midnight sunrise.
– Bob Eley
Copyright 2011. All rights reserved.