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The Alaska Goldpanners of Fairbanks were started in 1959 and made their first NBC World Series appearance in 1962, where they finished as runners-up of the tournament after losing in the championship to Wichita’s own Rapid Transit Dreamliners. At the time, Raymond “Hap” Dumont realized the marketing potential of bringing a team from Alaska to Wichita for the National Tournament, and it worked. The intrigue of a team from Alaska combined with top talent generated a strong following through the 1960’s and 1970’s. 

The Goldpanners became the first, and only, known independent team of any sport to win a world title, when the team topped Japan in the 1966 World Invitational Baseball Tournament. 

After their first appearance in 1962, Alaska went on to finish as runners-up in 1964 and 1971 before winning their first NBC World Series title in 1972. The Goldpanners dominated the tournament throughout the 1970’s with wins in 1973, 1974 and 1976, and second place finishes in 1975 and 1977. The 1971 and 1972 teams were led by eventual MLB All-Star, seven-time Gold Glove recipient and six-time Silver Slugger Award winner Dave Winfield. 

Winfield is one of more than 200 Goldpanners alumni to play in the MLB, including Barry Bonds, Jason Giambi and Tom Seaver. The Goldpanners won two more NBC World Series titles in 1980 and 2002, and another second place finish in 1983. 

Fairbanks has hosted the Midnight Sun game since 1906, with the Goldpanners playing in the game since the team’s creation. The game has been identified as one of the top baseball attractions in the country, which starts late in the evening, stretching past the midnight hour during the summer solstice. No artificial lights are turned on during the game due to the lingering daylight. The very first “outside team” to play in the Midnight Sun game was the Rapid Transit Dreamliners in 1963. The game continues to this day, played on Growden Field, the park built in 1962 and home of the Goldpanners.

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