by: JERRY JENKINS, Mount Prospect (IL) Day
It is common knowledge that Dave Kingman, Prospect High School's ace hurler and basketball star of last Year, went "someplace in Alaska to play ball." Many wonder where in Alaska you can play ball, and why anyone would want to go there and play when there are so many good leagues closer to home.
Kingman attended the University of Southern California during the spring and negotiated with the California Angels and the Baltimore Orioles.
THE "SOMETHING special" that lured Kingman from the West Coast was a team called the Pan Alaska Goldpanners. In 1960 the team was formed under the sponsorship of Pan Alaska, Inc., a Fairbanks sporting goods store owned and operated by H, A. (Red) Boucher and his wife.
Boucher was a new citizen of Fairbanks when he founded the Goldpanners. A 20-year Navy veteran, Boucher has used basebell for many years to build the character of his charges. The 1969 season will be Boucher's 24th as a manager. Besides being a top man for Alaska's Interior Airways, he has served since 1966 as mayor of the city of Fairbanks.
THE BASIC purpose of the Goldpanner program is to provide top notch baseball for young players of the community to imitate -- thereby developing baseball at all levels in the Fairbanks community.
In addition, the Goldpanner program provides baseball of a nationally recognized calibre which is scouted by the pros and provides healthy spectator participation for the community.
On this club Kingman suddenly finds himself a bullpenner rather than the star starter that he is used to being. The Goldpanners drew an average of 1,100 fans to each of their 40 home games each year.
THE GOLDPANNERS are sanctioned by the National Collegiate Athletic Association, and their talent is gathered fron the top college teams in the country. Several of Kingman's schoolmates were also chosen for the star-studded squad.
Recruiting starts in January every year. Candidates are carefully screened and scouted, with only outstanding prospects who are looking for a career in organized baseball being selected for the 18-man roster.
IN ACCORDANCE with NCAA summer baseball regulations, Dave was required to work a forty hour week in addition to playing ball every night. Jobs for the players are pre-arranged and the boys live in private homes.
Dave's job turned out to be a loading chore for Standard Oil. After loading and unloading 400 and 500 pound drums of gas and oil, he was expected to walk home. change clothes, and get to the ball park in time for pre-game batting practice.
Although Kingman didn't see as much action this year as he expects to next season, the Goldpanners played an independent schedule of approximately 55 games. The forty home games were against the best non-pro competition in the Western United States.
Dave helped himself in one of his relief stints with a home run.
THE CLUB made a tour of four Japanese cities earlier this month, but, being the youngest hurter on the team, Dave was cut along with another player because of a number-limit on the tour.
Opposing teams travel from as far away as Wichita, Kansas and Honolulu, Hawaii, to play in Fairbanks. The home season opens each year about June 15 and runs through Aug. 1.
The visitors get as far as Seattle on their own and then air travel, surface transportation, housing, meals, and sightseeing tours are provided by the Goidpanners during the stay in Fairbanks.
The Goldpanners have competed in the National Non-Pro Tournament at Wichita each year except 1966 since they first made the trip in 1962 and they have never been ranked lower than fourth nationally.
THE 1966 Goldpanners accepted an invitation to the United States Federation's Hawaiian and World Amateur Tournaments in Honolulu. Alaska defeated the Hawaiian All-Stars and Armed Forces Pacific team in two successive games.
Following Japan's victories over Korea, the Philippines, and the United States, the Goldpanners met them in a special best-two-of-three series.
The Goldpanners downed the World Amateur Champions in two straight to win the World Invitational. It was from this series that the idea of Japan vs. Alaska for the Centennial 67 was born.
THE GOLDPANNERS won seven of those eight games, losing only in the Midnight Sun Game en route to a 1967 season record of 45-10. Half of their losses came, at the hands of the Humboldt Crabs of Eureka, Cal.
Such big league stars as the Oakland Athletics' Rick Monday, New York Mets' Tom Seaver, and former Cub Chuck Hartenstein, have played in the past with the Goldpanners, and Dave Kingman would like to add his name to that list someday.
Press excerpts Copyright 1969 Mt. Prospect Day
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