Goldpanners prepare for 2022 season

Home opener June 7 against Peninsula Oilers
Published: May. 25, 2022 at 9:26 PM AKDT
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - Less than two weeks remain before the bleachers are filled at Growden Park for the start of the Alaska Goldpanners 2022 season. June 7 marks the opening day on the Panners schedule, and they’ll host a three-game series with the Peninsula Oilers.

The summer sun Fairbanks has to offer every year will be complimented with thirty three Alaskan games of America’s pastime. “I think it (Goldpanners baseball) means a lot to the community,” commented General Manager, John Lohrke. “It’s just a great place to to hang out, and when you’re talking three hours of 75 degrees, sunshine, great baseball, and hot dogs, you know... it’s a lot of fun.”

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Goldpanners didn’t have a season, and felt the effects during last season too, but for 2022, there is bright hope that there will be as close to a return to normalcy as possible.

“In ‘21 we had a full season, but we had pockets of games that had to be cancelled, and we had to deal with COVID” said Lohrke. “Throughout the season, we had to stay out of our locker room a lot last year. We hope that the vast majority of that is behind us, and we can concentrate on playing baseball.”

The Goldpanners will actually play the first seventeen games of their season at home, and two weeks into the season, will undoubtedly be one of the highlights: The 117th Midnight Sun Game. The Panners will bring in the San Diego Waves for the annual event.

“We’ve already virtually sold out of all of the reserved seating,” Lohrke mentioned regarding the Midnight Sun Game. With a crowd of 3,000 and so many returners, it’ll be fun again.

The Goldpanners and Waves have met in the Midnight Sun Game five times. Dating back to their first midnight sun meeting in 1999, the Goldpanners hold the overall advantage 3-2, but the Waves won the last game of the five with a final score of 4-2 back in 2017.

“We’re happy to have the San Diego Waves come back again, Lohrke stated. “They’re here every summer, and they’re great competition, but we owe them because they beat us the last time they were in the Midnight Sun Game.”

It all comes together in a matter of days for Lohrke and the rest of the Goldpanners management, staff, and players.

“We want it to be a great season for the fans. We want it to be a great experience for our team,” said Lohrke. “Everybody has to have a good time, or it all falls apart. It all culminates opening night June 7.”

The coaching staff, and players will start to arrive in Fairbanks at the beginning of June, giving them a short amount of time to get adjusted, acclimated, and prepared for the summer season ahead.

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