Fairbanks's 107th annual Midnight Sun baseball game is scheduled for Thursday June 21, the day after this year's official summer solstice. The first pitch will be thrown at 10:35 p.m. at Growden Memorial Park in the Alaska's second largest city, and the game will be played without artificial stadium lights.
The Midnight Sun Game has been a classic Fairbanksian tradition since its inception in 1904. Nowhere else in the United States is there a game quite like it and with a unique institution comes an equally unique history.
Throughout the years, the game has seen a few incarnations, from a simple Alaskan summer league to the nationally recognized classic it is today. The Midnight Sun Game started out as a humble in-state event, (the first game resulted from a bar bet, in fact), but with the formation of an official home team, the Fairbanks Goldpanners, in 1960 it grew up to be a coveted invitational for amateur teams across the country.
The Goldpanners now act as summer solstice hosts to other northern bound teams from around the United States, and occasionally internationally. The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner notes that the Goldpanners have been graced with the presence of pre-great baseball names such as Barry Bonds, Tom Seaver, Dave Winfield, Jason Giambi and others.
This year's matchup against the Everett Merchants of Washington state is the third game in a four-game series with the Goldpanners, which started on Tuesday June 19 and ends Friday June 22.
Following their series with the Goldpanners, the Merchants will take on the Anchorage Bucs on Saturday and play three games against the Peninsula Oilers to wrap up their Alaska road trip.