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.'” Continue reading “Bill speaks to ESPN at the 2005 Midnight Sun Game”
Unless they get serious about baseball in Scandinavia or some other place near the Arctic Circle, Fairbanks will continue to have the market on games under the Midnight Sun just as it has for the past century.
“It’s unique. We’re the only people that have it,” said Don Dennis, the Alaska Goldpanners’ general manager since 1968. “Nobody else can do it.”
That’s because nobody else who has almost 22 hours of daylight on the summer solstice plays baseball regularly. And the other five Alaska Baseball League teams, the nearest 300 miles to the south, simply don’t have enough light to start a game at 10:30 p.m. and play it all the way through without flipping the switch for artificial lights. Continue reading “Bill at the 2006 Midnight Sun Game”
“‘The number of years the three of us have been in Alaska is 203,” Stroecker said, eyes alert for the missing band member. “And, apparently, one of us has Alzheimer’s.”
BY CLARK SPENCER
FAIRBANKS, Alaska – The sun was posturing, scraping the western horizon while making its slow descent to the north. A rainbow unfurled in the east. And Bill Stroecker was standing impatiently by the admission gate at Growden Park as fans lined up to celebrate a baseball happening like no other.
‘You enjoy every minute of this,” said Mr. Stroecker, who has lived his entire life in Fairbanks, ”because from here on out, it goes downhill a little bit every day.”
“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. Continue reading “Stroecker still offers guiding hand as Goldpanners president”
Fairbanks Daily News-Miner and Tanana Tribune
Tuesday, October 1, 1912
Tenth Year–Number 191
NO PAYSTREAK AT GOOD NEWS
Stroecker Receives Word Concerning Operations on Butte.
Rich Spots of Pay There.
Prospecting Difficult and Expensive in Lower Kuskokwim Camp.
Advices which Ed Stroecker has just received from his mining partner, Bill McLean, in the Good News Bay country of the lower Kuskokwim are to the effect that no real paystreak has been uncovered as yet in that camp. True, some very rich spots of pay have been found, but these have the habit of suddenly petering out. This is the case with one of the firms on Butte Creek. Last season the boys took out $11,000. This summer they mined $10,000 and then suddenly ran out of the pay. McLean reports that they now have closed down and quit the camp. Despite these characteristics of the district and of Butte Creek McLean is quite optimistic and is satisfied that a little more prospecting will disclose a real and continuous paystreak from which the rich spots derived their gold.
Still operations are very expensive and slow on Butte, and all of the lower Kuskokwim. There is now need for the boilers, while most of the ground is wet and will require pumping.
McLean and partners put in a bedrock drain, but did not make much ______ because the water could not move the rocks, which are large, of high specific gravity and mostly flat.
Fairbanks Daily News-Miner and Tanana Tribune
Friday, October 11, 1912
Tenth Year–Number 200
One Plant Only Working at Chatanika, Olnes and Lower Vault.
This is the betwixt and between season for the placer workers when they are ceasing summer work, while they have not yet started winter development, hence it is rather quiet on the creeks reports Ed Stroecker, of E. R. Peoples’ store, who is just back from a tour of the neighboring valleys.
At Chatanika, Stroecker found only one plant at work, the remainder having finished for the season.
Down at the mouth of Dome, Barney Sandstrom is closing down today. Gleinschmidt ceased work yesterday noon, while Jerry Paulson expects to operate until the first of the month. Paulson is busied on the new left limit pay streak which shows a run of course gold, different from that previously found on the Niggerhead.
A little later there will be some work started on the Shakespeare group of Dome for two new days are to be let on that property.
No one is working now on lower Little El Dorado, and J. S. Bigsby has the only plan on lower Vault. He is sluicing on the Alabama Association.