• Forecast
  • News Tip
  • Categories
Temperature Precipitation
Estimated read time
2m 21s

Glacier Pilots historic 2001 season remembered in new documentary series

By Dave Leval 7:42 AM January 4, 2016

In 2001, Anchorage’s Glacier Pilots baseball team provided fans with a season to remember.

The team not only won the Alaska Baseball League title that year, but also the national championship in Wichita, KS.

Jeff Francis played on that winning team and remembers that incredible year.

“I wanted to to go away somewhere to play summer baseball, the opportunity came up to go to Anchorage, [which] seemed like a good opportunity. [It] turned out good for me,” said Francis.

Following that season, he was drafted by Colorado in the first round of the 2002 Major League draft.

The story of that magical season is featured in the new online documentary, “In Flight Pilots,” produced by Anchorage native Robert Barr.

“I couldn’t understand why the national media was ignoring all the great baseball stories that happened in Alaska, all the great college players that played,” Barr said.

He decided to tell the story of the impact of the game on his home town, and in doing so ended up with more than 50 hours of recordings.

What had originally been planned as a one hour documentary about the 2001 team became something more.

Barr expanded his project to what is likely a 14 hour series to tell the history of the Glacier Pilots and the Alaska Baseball League.

That includes players who made their way to Anchorage, including former major league slugger Mark McGwire.

“Number one thing on my mind was being a pitcher,” the former All-Star with the Oakland A’s and St. Louis Cardinals said in an interview clip.

But, McGwire quickly learned that wouldn’t happen with the Glacier Pilots.

“I wound up pitching, I think, a third of an inning. I believe I gave up three or four runs,” McGwire told Barr in an interview. “[They] took me out, put me at first base… next day asked me if i’d like to play first every day.”

Most of the players who played in the 2001 season came to Alaska while on break from college.

The series also recalls how the players spent their free time during their first visit to the Last Frontier.

“I was not much of a fisherman, the guys did a lot of salmon fishing, yeah, especially when we went to Kenai,” said McGwire.

“That team, they were just such a great bunch of guys. They were always optimistic, they were always energetic,” Barr told KTVA.

He says he wants to make it easier for Alaskans to relive one of the greatest chapters in Alaska sports history.

The series is set to debut on May 31, 2016.

Barr is looking for old Glacier Pilots photos and video — submit yours and find out more about the project at www.glacierpilotslegacy.com.

Correction: A previous version of this story misspelled Mark McGwire’s name. The article has been corrected.

Latest Stories

  • Man robs Juneau Petco at gunpoint

    by KTVA Web Staff on Jun 27, 18:05

    Tuesday afternoon, Juneau Police say a man robbed a Petco at gunpoint. Officers were called to the store around 3:30 Tuesday and began an investigation and search for the suspect. The suspect, who police say should be considered armed and dangerous, is still on the lam. He’s described as a white male between 25- and […]

  • News

    ‘If you’re ever going to take bear safety seriously, do it this year’

    by Lauren Maxwell on Jun 27, 17:57

    Fish and Game biologist Dave Battle says the agency is getting more reports of bear activity in the Anchorage Bowl than usual, and they are warning people to take precautions. “We hope people always take bear safety seriously,” said Battle. “But, if you were ever going to take bear safety seriously, do it this year.” […]

  • 5-year-old girl’s dying wish to ‘marry’ her best friend comes true

    by CBS News on Jun 27, 17:13

    With a sparkly crown, pink tulle skirt and rhinestone-lined silk top, 5-year-old Eileidh Paterson felt like a princess as she walked down the aisle to meet her future “husband.” It was a fairy tale the terminally ill girl dreamed up with her mom after she was diagnosed with stage 4 neuroblastoma — a cancer that […]

  • News

    Bogoslof erupts twice in two days

    by KTVA / AP on Jun 27, 17:09

    ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) – The Alaska Volcano Observatory says seismic activity at an Aleutians Island volcano has diminished following two eruptions in two days. Bogoslof (BOH-gohs-lawf) Volcano about 850 miles (1,400 kilometers) southwest of Anchorage erupted at 3:17 a.m. Tuesday and sent an ash cloud to 30,000 feet (9,100 meters). The eruption lasted 14 minutes. […]

  • Lifestyle

    Alaskans rally downtown, urge lawmakers to vote ‘no’ on GOP healthcare bill

    by Steffi Lee on Jun 27, 16:55

    Senate Republican leaders announced Tuesday they would delay a vote on the health care bill until after the July 4 recess, according to CBS News. Meanwhile, Alaskans are continuing to voice their concerns. A crowd gathered in front of Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s (R-AK) office in downtown Anchorage, holding signs and chanting about their opposition to […]

  • News

    Aliy Zirkle’s retired Iditarod sled dog missing in Anchorage

    by Heather Hintze on Jun 27, 16:46

    One of Aliy Zirkle’s retired Iditarod sled dogs is on the loose in Anchorage. Barbara Swenson has been sponsoring “Scruggs” for years and adopted the dog from Zirkle over the weekend. Scruggs had only been at her home for a day before a loud lawnmower spooked him and he took off on Sunday. “Sled dogs […]

  • News

    Bear attack victims seek community support

    by KTVA Web Staff on Jun 27, 16:33

    The rash of bear attacks in Alaska this season has left a string of injured victims, devastated families and medical expenses. In response, some of the families affected have set up fundraising pages to help shoulder some of the financial burdens and set up memorials for their lost loved ones. Jack Cooper Memorial Fund Jack […]

  • News

    Brothers endeavor to name Alaska mountain ridge

    by Associated Press on Jun 27, 15:47

    MOOSE PASS, Alaska (AP) – Two mountaineering brothers who lived in Alaska briefly in the late 1960s have asked the state Historical Commission to formally name three peaks and a ridge. The Peninsula-Clarion reports that if the request is granted, the ridge in Moose Pass will be named Locomotive Ridge, with peaks named the Engine, the […]