Bill Stroecker, center, is the trumpetist for the Frigid-Aires, Growden’s house band, which runs through a set of jazz standards prior to each Midnight Sun Game. Stroecker’s father, Eddie, was the catcher in the very first Midnight Sun Game, in 1906, and Bill still serves as the president of the Goldpanners. Between Stroecker (who complained of “sticky valves” during his 2007 set), accordion player Rif Rafson, and bassist Karl Carlson, the Frigid-Aires have spent a combined 206 years in Alaska.
By Jim Caple
FAIRBANKS, Alaska – The Midnight Sun game is like most baseball games -except here the shadows are still creeping across the infield at close to 11 p.m.
“Nobody here knows if the lights have ever been turned on or not,” Alaska Goldpanners manager Ed Cheff said, squinting through the golden sunlight at the light towers at Growden Park. “The rumor is that they might not even work. I know they’ve never been on in the four years I’ve been here. You talk to the locals about the lights and they just laugh and say, ‘Yeah, we don’t know about them, either.'”
“There’s no program like it anywhere.”
DURING THE EARLY DAYS OF Fairbanks, baseball had an iron grip on the public’s attention.
There were no cars to get people out of town easily and no television stations to keep the kids entertained, so a trip to a ballgame was a favorite diversion.
“There were great players in those days too,” Bob Bartlett wrote in 1954. “Whether they could have made the major leagues is beside the point.”
Bartlett, a future U.S. Senator, said his favorite ballplayers included George Parks, who became governor of Alaska, and Ed Stroecker, who later served as president of the First National Bank of Fairbanks (now Key Bank). Stroecker was a great power hitter, Bartlett said.
FAIRBANKS HOME GUARDS
March 27th, 1918
FRANK B. HALL, President
GUY B. ERWIN, Vice-President
ROBERT W. TAYLOR, Secretary
JAS. E. BARRACK, Drillmaster
GENERAL ORDER NO. 1
You are informed that the Fairbanks Home Guard is now regularly organized and has been authorized by the Governor of Alaska to petition the services designated in Act June 11, 1917 and that the Guards have the character of State Police or Constabulary.
It has been decided to use the Home Guard for patrol duty in Fairbanks and Garden Island during the night time. This patrol and guard will be started on April 1st, 1918 and will be kept up according to the schedule herewith for the period of four weeks, when the hours of guard duty will be shortened and a new schedule of names furnished.
The patrol will consist of six guards, two on Garden Island, and four in town of Fairbanks, and the patrol will be relieved every two hours.
The object of the patrol is to guard and protect property, especially all warehouses containing food and government property. The patrol on the Garden Island side will guard the warehouse district, railway depot and buildings and the bridge. The patrol in Fairbanks will pay especial attention to that part of the town lying between First and Third Avenues and from Lacy Street to Wickersham.
The patrol will be armed with revolvers and are ordered to make arrests in the event of persons attempting to destroy property.
The guards will report for duty at the City Hall, where a book will be furnished for the entry of their names and time of going on duty and where they will be furnished with arms. The second, third and fourth relief, after reporting at City Hall, will relieve those on duty, who hand over their arms, and when the fourth relief goes off duty at 6 o’clock in the morning they will return the arms to City Hall.
It is intended that each man shall stand guard two hours once each week. In order that the hours of duty be fairly distributed, each relief will be guided by and go on duty the first time in strict accordance with the schedule as printed. The second time their turn for guard duty comes around each relief will go on two hours later than they did the first week, and so on each successive week for the four weeks the schedule is intended to cover, which will give each relief patrol duty for one week of the four periods. In other words, those who go on duty from 9 to 11 the first night will the following week go on from 11 to 1, and the next week from 1 to 3, and the fourth week from 3 to 5.
If there is any misunderstanding with reference to these instructions, you are to call up any of the drillmasters, who will put you right.
If for any reason you are prevented from attending to these duties at the hour fixed, it is expected that you will provide a substitute by changing hours with some other member of the Home Guard.
IT IS ORDERED THAT EACH MAN REPORT PROMPTLY AT THE HOUR NAMED.
The officers of the Guard look to the members to carry out this order in the spirit that it is for the best interests of all concerned. We are engaged in the bitterest war of all times, the safety of Civilization is at stake, and there is a debt of service due from every man in this country proportionate to the bounties which nature and fortune have measured to him. That you are willing an anxious to “do your bit” is not questioned. – TWO HOURS EACH WEEK.
|March 27th, 1918.||By Order of Executive Committee.|
|JAS. E. BARRACK,|
|9 to 11||11 to 1||1 to 3||3 to 5|
|Anderson, O. W.||Bloom, Robt||Joslin, W. H.||Hamilton, Ray|
|Bishoprick, F.||Bickford, J. B.||Boyer, E. H.||Brown, R. M.|
|Bucci, J.||Buel, T.||Bailey, H.||Bredlie, A.|
|Kelly, H. C.||Bidwell, J.||Buckley, J. J.||Cambridge, J. A.|
|Hess, L. C.||Beraud, G. E.||Clark, J. A.||Carlson, M. O.|
|Bernard, R. L.||Hess, S. R.||Love, Max||Williams, A. J.|
|Levake, J.||Levake, Dave||Raap, John||Saulich, Milo|
|Wolcott, Ed.||Kennedy, B. S.||Miller, Frank||DeYoung, Harry|
|Coleman, G. A.||Clausen, E. A.||Carey, Wm.||Cunningham, J. M.|
|Courtnay, Walter||Clark, F. R.||Conradt, Aug.||Drake, G. D.|
|Avakoff, H. B.||Cathcart, W.||Carlsten, A.||Johnson, A. J.|
|Gibson, Thos.||Coombs, D. F.||Carruthers, S. S.||Wilbur, A. L.|
|Atlich, Carl||Davis, Edby||Kennedy, A||Hayes, C. H.|
|Struthers, J. Fred.||Barrack, John||Weir, H. A.||Wesch, Geo.|
|Dunn, John||Fairborn, J. A.||Graham, F. P.||Groen, John|
|Davis, J. A.||Fortier, A. H.||George, Chris.||Gillette, L. R.|
|Deal, T. H.||Fisher, Oscar D.||Groves, J.||Hall, F. B.|
|Evans, W. E.||Foster, T. H.||Gellerman, E.||Hutchinson, G.|
|McCord, Abe||Lewis, Fred.||Jankovich, M.||Davis, H. C.|
|Sommers, R. J.||Hopkins, Paul||Nerland, Andrew||Heath, Jack|
|Hahn, C. S.||Krieger, O. P.||Landers, A.||Magnussen, S. L.|
|Johnson, Ed.||Kramer, W. F.||Lumpkin, H. H.||Mehegan, J.|
|Kennedy, G. F.||Lavery, Robt.||Miller, J. H.||Markus, Geo.|
|Lloyd, Reese||Fowle, J. R.||Mack, E. H.||Marple, W.|
|Menzie, R. D.||Kelly, Robt.||Johnson, Theo.||Appleby, W. A.|
|Rose, Dan||Bryant, J. F.||Sheldon, R. E.||Smythe, E. J.|
|McKinnon, W. W.||Heilmick, M.||Nerland, T. A.||Koon, Norman|
|MacQuarrie, G. A.||McGinnis, D. L.||Pinkerton, W. T.||Parsons, T. A.|
|McDonald, Thos.||Newton, D. A.||Peterson, P. S.||Rhind, C. F.|
|McCrary, Frank||Nerland, Andy||Preston, Geo.||Rust, Jesse|
|Peoples, E. R.||Ross, H. H.||St. George, R. Y.||Selberg, C. S.|
|McIntosh, J. A.||McAdam, Ed||Murrow, J. G.||Moyer, LeRoy|
|Bolston, Ted||Sherman, Ben.||Sells, Mark||Tonseth, E. A.|
|Roth, R. F.||Smith, Jos.||Smith, Jr., J. H.||Tull, H. R.|
|Steel, R. S.||Sea, Sam||Taylor, R. W.||Wood,, F. P.|
|Swan, T. T.||Sutherland, J. A.||Thompson, Ben.||Wooldridge, E. R.|
|Stroecker, Ed.||Sanderlin, E. L.||Campbell, Wm.||Landerking, G. M.|
|Karstens, H. P.||Kubon, Ralph||Lorentzen, Peter||Lovejoy, S __ve|
|Copeland, A. L.||Fisher, Joe F.||Handley, W. H.||Hering, Ed|
|Crawford, R. M.||Golden, Louis||Harrals, Martin||Hunter, Geo.|
|Brown, Harry W.||Grown, Harry L.||Hellig, Reed W.||Purdy, E. H.|
|Douse, Fred||Hall, M. F.||Heacock, L. J.||Protzman, L. F.|
WILLIAM GEORGE STROECKER
Born in Fairbanks on July 31, 1920, Stroecker had the rare distinction of never calling anywhere else home, leaving Fairbanks only in 1938 to attend New Mexico Military Institute and then again near the end of World War II when stationed in the Army at Grande Prairie, Canada as part of the Lend-Lease Program.