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Light shines bright on annual Midnight Sun Baseball Game

By Dave Leval 6:44 AM June 23, 2017

Eager fans celebrate as they enter Growden Park in Fairbanks. Others wait to enter the historic stadium on an atypical game night. It’s the Midnight Sun Game, the 112th edition. That draws plenty of first-time fans to the ballpark, including, South Dakota’s Jason Roberts.

“I heard it’s the place to be! Why not take in a baseball game while on vacation,” asked Roberts.

Jackie Washack and friends traveled all the way from New Jersey.

“We’re here in Alaska on vacation, and we saw this in our tour book, I thought, what I hoot. I think I’d like to go to this, I think it’s a lot of fun,” Warshack told KTVA Sports.

The Alaska Goldpanners host San Diego in this year’s edition of the summer classic. Waves Pitcher Parker Johnson has a unique view of the game. It’s the first time he’s taken part in it after he recently graduated from South Anchorage High School. “I remember coming here as a kid, watching games, chasing foul balls, It’s a pleasure to play with this guys, great group of guys, good chemistry,” Johnson said.

“I remember coming here as a kid, watching games, chasing foul balls, It’s a pleasure to play with this guys, great group of guys, good chemistry,” Johnson said.

Growden Park has hosted the game since 1964 when it became Alaska’s first outdoor stadium with lights. Not needed here on this night.

Fans can see former Goldpanners who made it to the Major Leagues. That includes Hall of Famers Tom Seaver and Dave Winfield.

There’s Alfano and family ventured from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, for their first Midnight Sun Game.

“It’s the Summer Solstice, and how many times in my life am I going to see a game played at midnight, in Alaska, for Summer Solstice,” Alfano told KTVA Sports during the game.

One notable change for this year’s contest: the game started at 10 p.m., instead of 10:30. The Goldpanners boss said the reason is simple.

“We just didn’t want to have anyone not come out to the ball game because of how late it might be, because they have to work in the morning, so, we took a half hour off, hopefully, that makes more people come out, and still make it to work in the morning,” explained Alaska General Manager John Lohrke.

San Diego snapped the Goldpanners nine-game win streak in this contest with the 4-2 win. Alaska will try to start a new streak next year, in the land of the Midnight Sun.

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