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If there’s one man responsible for making baseball in Alaska what it is today, it’s none other than H.A. “Red” Boucher.
Boucher founded the Alaska Goldpanners of Fairbanks in 1960 under the sponsorship of the sporting goods store he owned in Fairbanks. The team, then known as the Pan Alaska Goldpanners, joined the North of the Range League.
The first Goldpanner team used primarily local players, but did have five young recruits from the University of Arizona. The Panners remained at that level until gearing up for the National Baseball Congress World Series in 1962. Boucher did his first wholesale importing of top collegiate talent
Under his leadership, Boucher guided the Goldpanners to a 337 - 118 record in 10 seasons. The Panners began their tradition of appearing at the NBC Tournament in Wichita, Kan., in the summer of 1962. Although they never won a national championship during his tenure, the Panners never finished lower than fourth place. A promoter by nature, Boucher once had a live bear in the dugout with the Goldpanners during the NBC Tournament at Wichita. The Panners have gone on to win seven NBC titles, more than any other team in the history of the event.
Another of Boucher’s promotions was having the Goldpanners play annually in the Midnight Sun Baseball Game, which was first played on June 21, 1906 in Fairbanks. The game is now on the Baseball Hall of Fame’s list of 10 “Must See” games if you’re a true baseball fan.
Boucher managed more than 30 players who went on to play in the Major Leagues. Among those players are the likes of Hall of Famer Tom Seaver, Bob Boone, Dave Kingman and Jimmy Williams.
Because of Boucher’s dedication to the game, the Alaska Baseball League was eventually formed in the early 1970s. It has grown to six teams and still provides top-notch baseball action for Alaskans throughout the summer.
– Bob Eley
photo courtesy of Fairbanks Daily News-Miner
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