The Midnight Sun Game at Growden Memorial Park; photo credit: Explore Fairbanks
The Midnight Sun Baseball Game has been played on every summer solstice in Fairbanks since 1906. The game starts at 10:30pm, and has never been played under artificial lights.
On a separate weather note: Fairbanks saw it’s first 80F degree day of the year on Thursday, June 20. That’s 10 days later than the average for the first 80. We’ve been dry and quite sunny, with temps basically running in the 70’s up until the Big Eight-Zero finally arrived.
The warmest Summer Solstice on record in Fairbanks happened on 21 June 1991, when the official airport thermometer hit 94F.
PBS is airing an incredible documentary through their American Masters series called Ted Williams: “The Greatest Hitter Who Ever Lived”, and it is extremely well done.
Ted Williams in 1947
Ted Williams was a fascinating, yet complicated individual. Widely accepted as the greatest hitter that baseball has ever seen, Williams had a swing that was pure artistry. He also had a temper that both riled and endeared fans and sports writers alike.
He was the last man to hit over .400 during a MLB season, which Williams did in 1941. He also refused to tip his cap when on the field, even after hitting a home run. His final at bat at Fenway Park was a home run, yet his cap never left his head. In private, Williams raised millions of dollars for treatment and research for children with cancer.
Ted Williams in Korea
His baseball career was interrupted twice by war. Williams spent three years in The U.S. Navy in WWII, and another year of service in Korea in 1953. He flew 39 ground attack combat missions as a Marine pilot over Korea. Many, as John Glenn’s wingman.
The American Masters documentary pulls no punches as it delves into “The Kid’s” life. Williams was a complicated man, but as the film states, “Williams was real. Ted lived his life with his emotions on his sleeve”. The documentary is well worth the time, even if you have little interest in baseball.
The Golden Gopher baseball team won all three games at the Minneapolis NCAA Regional over the weekend. Friday night, Minnesota routed Canisius 10-1. UCLA had won earlier in the day against Gonzaga.
Outfield seats at Siebert
Friday night saw a record crowd at the new Siebert Field. Coach John Anderson led the effort to rebuild and keep the aging ballpark on campus, with current Minnesota Twins manager, former Gopher, and MLB Hall of Famer, Paul Molitor the head of fundraising. No public funds were used in the construction. As a student at Minnesota, I spent many a sunny afternoon at the Old Siebert Field, just hanging out, doing a little homework between innings, and enjoying some great college baseball.
Minnesota Coach John Anderson
On Saturday, Gonzaga knocked Canisius out of the tournament, in a rain delayed game. Minnesota took on UCLA in the nightcap, and lightning early in the contest, delayed that game even further. A pitchers’ duel took place after the lightning, with UCLA taking a one run lead late into the game. Due to a freak coin flip, Minnesota was the visitor in their own ballpark. In the top of the eighth, Gopher All-American shortstop, Terrin Vavra, led off with a double. Eli Wilson then followed with a single, bringing Vavra in for the tying run.
The game was tied 2-2 at the end of nine, when Vavra again led off the 10th with a single. He would score the winning run on a double by Micah Coffey. Minnesota gets the after-midnight win 3-2.
Golden Gopher baseball
UCLA would beat Gonzaga for a second time, for the right to face Minnesota in Sunday night’s championship game. This game would not be a pitchers’ duel. In fact, the first 1-2-3 inning did not come until the fourth, for either team. Neither starter made it out of the third inning.
Jordan Kozicky #7 tracking down a pop up
Reliever Jackson Rose came in for Minnesota, throwing four relief innings, giving up only one run. Toby Hanson hit a three run homer for Minnesota, and Alex Boxwell hit a two run homer, and drove in four runs, as Minnesota out clubbed UCLA 13-8 in front of another record crowd.
Minnesota now travels to Corvallis, OR to play the Beavers of Oregon State University in a best of three Super Regional. The winner of that series travels to Omaha for the College World Series.
Minnesota Baseball celebrates their B1G title; Photo credit: AP/Nati Harnik
Congrats to the University of Minnesota Gopher baseball team who won the B1G Tournament over the weekend. The Gophers also won the regular season title this year.
Gopher baseball will now host one of the NCAA Regionals at Siebert Field. Minnesota will face Canisius at 7pm on Friday. UCLA will take on Gonzaga in the other game. The regional is double elimination, and the winner moves on to a Super-Regional.
Minnesota Coach John Anderson getting his Gatorade shower in Omaha; Photo credit: AP/Nati Harnik
Top seeded Minnesota beat second seeded Purdue 6-4 in Omaha for the Big Ten Championship. The victory gave the Golden Gophers their 10th tournament title, breaking a tie between Michigan and Ohio State for the most in conference history.
Target Field, the (new) home of the Minnesota Twins MLB club, opened in April of 2010. Until this spring, I had never caught a game at the new ballpark.
This is the 6th ballpark for the franchise, dating back to the Washington Senators’ days with American League Park in 1901.
Target Field currently seats just under 39,000 for baseball.
Located in the warehouse district of Minneapolis, Target Field is a beautiful ballpark, with the exterior constructed out of local limestone. The ballpark is next door to Target Center, and has a light rail station. There are plenty of food and drink choices inside the stadium, with several heated areas of the concourse! I think the Metrodome turned Minnesotans a bit soft; there were no heated areas at Met Stadium.
Since we were there for a promotion, our seats were up in the left field high-rise area. The Twins fell behind early, 6-1, but fought back to make it 6-5 by the eighth inning. Toronto hit a solo homer in the top of the ninth, and the final score was a 7-5 loss for Minnesota.
Vin Scully, broadcasting from Ebbets Field for the Brooklyn Dodgers
Vin Scully, the Voice of the Dodgers, signed off for the final time today. Joining the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1950, Scully would follow the team to Los Angeles, spending a record 67 seasons calling their ball games.
Scully has called over 9,000 games over those 67 years. He announced 20 no-hitters, and was there for five Dodgers’ championship seasons. He called Don Larsen’s perfect game in the 1956 World Series and Sandy Koufax’s perfect game in 1965.
Major League Baseball honored both Rod Carew and Tony Gwynn at the All Star Game in San Diego on Tuesday.
The American League batting title will now be known as the “Rod Carew Batting Championship Award”.
Carew, who played for the Minnesota Twins (1967-1978) and the California Angels (1979-1985) was an 18 time All Star, and won the AL batting title seven times. The left handed hitter was the AL Rookie of the Year in 1967. In 1977, he finished the year batting .388, which was the highest average since Ted Williams hit .388 in 1957, earning Rodney the AL MVP award that year. Carew hit .328 for his career with 3053 hits. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1991. Carew’s #29 has been retired by both the Minnesota Twins and California Angels.
Photo credit: The San Diego Padres
The National League batting title will now be known as the “Tony Gwynn Batting Championship Award”.
Gwynn played his entire career with the San Diego Padres. A 15 time All Star, and winner of the NL batting title eight times, Gwynn was known as “Mr Padre”. Tony had a career average of .338 and collected 3141 hits. Gwynn was elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2007. His number was retired in San Diego in 2004. Tony Gwynn died of salivary gland cancer in 2014 at the age of 54.
Golden Gopher Baseball in 1900: The team was 17-11-1 that year.
The University of Minnesota Golden Gopher baseball squad takes on Wake Forest in the Texas A&M Regional on Friday. It’s the Gophers’ first appearance in the NCAA tourney since 2010. Minnesota, the Big Ten regular season winner, is the region’s second seed, behind A&M.
It’s been an emotional roller coaster ride for Gopher baseball this year, with veteran pitching coach Todd Oakes facing another battle with cancer. Oakes, who was with Minnesota for 18 years, lost that battle on May 26; he was 55.
Good luck to the Gophers at Blue Bell Park.
Photo and Goldy courtesy of Golden Gopher Baseball
Yogi Berra hits a three-run home run against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Forbes Field in Game 7 of the 1960 World Series. Photo credit: Neil Leifer / Sports Illustrated.
Yogi Berra, the iconic Yankee and Hall of Fame catcher, died on Tuesday of natural causes. Berra was 90.
Berra was an 18 time All Star and a 3 time American League MVP. He played on 14 pennant teams, winning 10 World Series, both MLB records. As a player, coach or manager, Berra was in 21 World Series, winning 13 of them.