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.
“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.