1965 Midnight Sun Game
60TH YEAR OF
SPONSORED BY THE SONS & DAUGHTERS OF THE MIDNIGHT SUN
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TOM SEAVER vs. JOHN HERBST
"To describe Monday night’s Midnight Sun game as dramatic would be the understatement of the year. It was more like the closing scene from a fabulous, but unbelievable Hollywood production.”
Ninth inning... Goldpanners leading 4-3... the University of Southern California Trojans with the bases loaded... two out and a 3-2 count on the batter. The stage was set and the actors in their places as Muggs Mies went into his stretch...here comes the pitch, the swing, as the runners start to go... and it’s a foul ball. There’s only so much tension that can be built up, and though the limit seemed to have been reached in the above situation, it continued to climb as Ken Walker fouled off a pitch to right field, another back over the press box...
How Many Strikes?
Could Mies continue to pour strike after strike over the plate? A ball would force in the tying run. Another foul, and then the crack of the bat, the gasp of the crowd, as everyone seemed to sense the grand slam home run... then the relief as the ball curved foul far out over the left field wall. And then it was over. Mies had set down Walker with a curve and the silence of that moment was suddenly lost as the crowd realized the game was won.
From the very first inning it was evident that the Trojans and the Panners had come to play ball, and play ball they did. Tom Seaver and John Herbst, teammates in 1964 with the Goldpanners and this college year with USC were facing each other as Seaver started for the Panners and Herbst for USC. It developed as a tight pitching duel to the fifth inning when Seaver, making a bare-handed play on a two hopper of the bat of Herbst, had the ball catch him between the fourth and small fingers and split his hand.
Seaver was taken immediately to the hospital where a thorough examination proved the injury less serious than at first believed. But the duel continued... Muggs Mies, without any warmup came in for the Panners. Having trouble with his control, Mies let in one run with a wild pitch, and with one run already in due to an error, the Trojans had tied the score at 2-2. Getting stronger as he loosened up, Mies retired the side with Walker flying to center and Dedeaux striking out.
The Trojans opened the sixth with a double by Daryl Wilkins who moved to third on a passed ball and then scored on Fred Shuey’s single. The run put the visitors ahead 3-2. Herbst, appearing stronger as the night turned to dawn, continued to handcuff the Panners whose two runs had come in the second inning on a combination of three hits and an error. Mies, too, picked up steam as he was getting warmed up, and the 3-2 score looked better to the Trojan fans all the time.
The Panners though are scrappers and hadn’t given up. Tom Brogan opened the eighth with a single, moved to second on an excellent bunt laid down by Ray Henningsen and then came in with the tying run on a throwing error on an infield play, Maxwell continuing to second on the play. With only one out and the go-ahead run on second, Graig Nettles was given the hit-away sign by manager Red Boucher and drilled a line double between the outfielders to send Maxwell home with the go-ahead run. Herbst, taking a hitch in his belt, got the next two batters on a strikeout and an infield grounder to end the inning.
Setting The Stage
And then came the ninth inning. To set the stage for the dramatic climax, Ed Gagle reached first on an error. Mies, having a control problem once again, walking the next batter, received a break when catcher Al Diamond made the force play at third on an attempted sacrifice for the first out. And there were still two base runners. In trying to set up a man in scoring position, the Trojans put Don Johnson in to run for Shuey. On the attempted steal of third, a prefect peg by Diamond to Maxwell caught Johnson in a real tight play. Two outs, and then two straight walks loaded the bases to set up the storybook finish with Walker going down swinging.
An estimated 2500 persons attended the traditional game which followed a number of presentations and awards and a program of entertainment under the direction of the Golden Days Committee and the Alaska 67 group. (By Stan Caulfield, Reprinted from Fairbanks Daily News-Miner June 22, 1965)
June 22, 1965 - Fairbanks Daily News-Miner