"24 Hours of Play Ball" set to make history for Fairbanks
The Alaska Goldpanners are set to host many games at Growden Park this year, as a matter of fact, they are set to host Four different opponents in Seven-Game Series. However, all eyes are going to be on one event in particular, the Annual Midnight Sun Game. This 113 year old Solstice Tradition has stood the test of time, and this year, it's going to be even more spectacular.
This year the Midnight Sun Game will feature as the Main Event in an entire day's worth of Baseball activities. The Play Ball initiative, which was created by Major League Baseball to help spread awareness and involvement for our National Past-time, will be hosting "24 hours of play ball". This is the first time that 24 hours worth of Baseball and Softball events have ever been held in natural light. Representatives from the MLB Commissioner's office, including Vice President of Youth Programs David James arrived on Tuesday night to get the festivities underway.
"I was on a flight back from Salt Lake City and on the in-flight Magazine I read a story about the 24 hours of Play Ball. When we got back to the Commissioner's Office we started following up and reached out to the local people here and a little bit more than a year away, here we are," said David James, Vice President of Youth Programs for MLB.
The party will get started as soon as the clock strikes Midnight on Thursday. The Fairbanks Post 11 49ers and the North Pole Post 30 Wild Legion teams will kick off the event with a league game. There will then be an Interior Girls Softball League Game from 2-4am. The Wee hours of the morning will belong to the Fairbanks Adult Softball league, who will host two different games, one from 4-6am, and one from 6-8. Two different PONY league games, one 8U and one 10U will play from 8-10am. The Air Force and Army Softball teams will play eachother at Growden Park from 9-10am. The 12-U PONY and RBI Alaska Squads will play eachother from 10 to noon and there will be a final PONY League game between 14U teams from 12-2PM. There will then be two Play Ball Open Sessions that will go from 1-3 and 4-6. The Doors will then open for the Midnight Sun game at 8pm, where the Alaska Goldpanners take on the Orange County Surf.
"To have all this intersection and this area be dressed up and be all about baseball for 24 hours for the Fairbanks Community, which is Baseball anyway, to add to that and to make it that much more fun is really exciting," said John Lohrke, General Manager - Alaska Goldpanners.
This event will also host a very special visitor in the form of Major League Baseball Vice President and special assistant to the Commissioner Billy Bean, who played Summer Ball for the Panners in his college years. He'll arrive in town tonight to be there for this truly one of a kind event on Thursday, which will not only be giving the Goldpanners national exposure through Major League Baseball this year, but the Play Ball initiative will get to spread their message all the way to the Interior of Alaska.
"Whatever we can do to help spread the message, get more people to come up here and visit Growden Park, to visit Fairbanks... And you know, a lot of people wouldn't think Fairbanks and Baseball, but there's a really rich tradition here. And again, all a part of this Play Ball Initiative, it's not only however you play ball but wherever you play ball we want you to play," James said.
The Ballpark may be empty right now, but all of these seats are going to be full. As a matter of fact, they're putting up more sets of bleachers right now to fit all the people that are going to be here for first pitch at 10pm.