Goldpanners remember legendary pitcher Tom Seaver
FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) -
Pitching pioneer of the Alaska Goldpanners franchise, Tom Seaver, died Monday at the age of 75 due to complications of Lewy body dementia and COVID-19, according to the Baseball Hall of Fame, where he was an inducted member in 1992.
Prior to his Hall of Fame Major League career, Seaver was one of the first prolific players of the rich Alaska Goldpanners history. He was invited to join the team in 1964 by Red Boucher, the founder of the Goldpanners and the Fairbanks Mayor at the time.
An old Goldpanners tale of Seaver featured on their website recalls the story of his first game donning the Alaska Flag on his jersey.
Arriving from California, where Seaver was playing college baseball for Fresno City College, he was picked up from the airport by the Boucher family on game day. Seaver suited between the time landed and entering stadium, where the Goldpanners were in the middle of a game against the Washington Bells. The 6-foot 1 right-handed pitcher went directly to bullpen to loosen up his arm before heading in for relief.. He met his catcher on the mound prior to retiring the side, where he proceeded to meet the rest of his teammates in the dugout after the half inning.
“It is true,” said current General Manager of the Goldpanners, John Lohrke with a laugh. “Obviously the team at the time knew they had somebody special and couldn’t wait to get him in a game.”
Seaver would return to the Goldpanners for the 1965 season, just a few years into the organization’s existence, with the Goldpanners’ inception season coming in 1960. “Tom Terrific” was placed in positions of the highest honors while with the Goldpanners; starting the annual Midnight Sun Game and starting and winning the National Baseball Congress World Series.
While wandering Growden Memorial Park, home of the Alaska Goldpanners, fans will see large posters of legendary players past, including Seaver. Lohrke wants to remind those who visit the ballpark of the team’s history, while honoring those who have built it.
“The fans can walk their son up to the poster and say, ‘look at this guy.’” Lohrke added. “We have really tried to keep out there, not just on our website, but at the ball park, so much of our history...not just because it is such a rich history, but it is just the right thing to do because the Fairbanks community has been so supportive of it for 60 years. That doesn’t happen very often in semi-pro sports for an organization to be with it that long.”
Lohrke also mentioned that Seaver wasn’t hesitant to praise the Goldpanners organization and express how he benefited from his time in Fairbanks.
“He was one that spoke about it quite a bit, from what I’ve learned. What it tells you is that he tends to show up on certain things. There has been articles written about him where he does talk quite a bit about Fairbanks and that is not always the case with players.”
Tom Seaver MLB Legacy
• 311 Wins, 3,640 Strikeouts, 2.86 ERA
• 3x Cy Young
• 12x All-Star
• 1992 Baseball Hall of Fame Inductee
•1969 World Series Champion
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