2003 Team: 44th Season • 98th MSG | Ed Cheff • Elliott Strankman // Kyle Allen • Kyle Aselton • Brett Andrade • Tyler Best • Nick Blasi • Derek Bruce • Jeff Culpepper • Brad E. Davis • Brad Davis • Will Fenton • Emerson Frostad • James Guerrero • Drew Jenson • Clay Johnson • Aaron Mathews • Jon McCaslin • Jake McLintock • Tim Montgomery • Jose Rodriguez • Sean Timmons • Nick Walsh • Kevin Welch • Chris Zachgo | 2003 Card Set | All-Time Roster • All-Time Lineups
"The 2003 Goldpanners rode strong pitching and a knack for delivering wins -- no matter how unlikely -- to a 38-17 season record. The team delivered a second consecutive Alaska Baseball League championship en route to a strong showing at the National Baseball Congress World Series, at times which seemed like a lock for the Fairbanks club. However, the team fell a few comebacks short of delivering to Fairbanks back-to-back national championship titles.
After winning a fundamentally sound game against the North County, CA, Waves 9-0, the Goldpanners showed flashes of championship lustre by defeating the eventual world champion Chinese-Taipei Olympic Team 4-3 in nine heart-stopping innings.
The possibility of a repeat title never looked better after that championship-calibre ballgame. However, the role of destiny’s child seen last year fell short, and the Panners tasted defeat in 2003.
Trailing by two runs in the bottom of the 11th inning after the Lake Havasu (AZ) Heat scored two in the top, Aaron Mathews clouted a two-run blast over the left-field foul pole, tying the game and sending it to the 12th. With neither team able to score through the 14th, the Heat eventually pushed across an unanswered run in the 15th, knocking the Panners out of the ranks of the undefeated, and into the loser’s bracket with a 6-5 win.
Unable to regroup for the next game, and in losing 3-1 to the eventual runner-up Santa Barbara Forresters (2000 Midnight Sun Game opponents), the Panners were sent home with a 9th place finish.
The 2003 Goldpanners did not win the national tournament in Wichita, KS. They could have, maybe they even should have. But the team, while talented, was missing one extremely important ingredient. Inspiration.
The ‘03 club had top-notch coaching, quality pitching, fine defense and above-average offense. But no one stepped forward with the unabashed enthusiasm to win. This is often done with performance on the field, but better yet when performance is accompanied by a “cheerleeding” component.
The 2002 national championship team had Marc Kaiser, p-of-dh out of the University of Arizona. He filled the role of star performer and positive motivator to a ‘T’. His enthusiastically repeated cheer was “It’s good to be a Goldpanner!”
The Panners’ nine other national championship teams all had a similar person.
The 1966 World Amateur Tournament winners had lefty pitcher Tom House of the University of Southern California.
The 1972 NBC champs had of-p Dave Winfield of the University of Minnesota.
The 1973 NBC winners has third baseman Gene Delyon of Santa Clara University.
The 1974 NBC victors had a duo -- Tommy Sain, centerfielder/second baseman from Arizona State along with Steve Kemp, outfielder from the University of Southern Cal.
The 1976 NBC champions were led by Greg Harris of Long Beach City College.
The 1980 NBC champs had the muscle and leadership of Stan Holmes, Arizona State Outfielder.
The 1988 U.S. Open winners had catcher Miah Bradbury of Loyola Marymount fill the role. His sage baseball wisdom included motivational phrases such as “two runs down, right where we want to be.”
The 1990 U.S. Open champs followed the lead of catcher Todd Winston of Michigan.
And, the 1991 National Shootout champions had a trio of such leaders -- first baseman Todd Pridy of Long Beach, outfielder Bill Dunckel of San Diego State, and pitcher/outfielder Brett Backlund of the University of Iowa.
This is not to say that the above were the only stars to fit into this category, just the most obvious to the casual observer." (2004 Yearbook)
Working man wins ABL Player of Year
Mike Moat Pitching in for the Cause
Basch Gets Victory, Saves UNR Title Hopes
Batters Knuckle Under to Basch's Sidearm Delivery
10/1: McCaslin Sets Mark in Alaska League ""At first I was wondering 'Man, do I really want to do this? I am going to go there and just rocked and get hit all over the place.' But it turned out really good," McCaslin said."
9/1: Culpepper and Timmons Named MVPs
8/23: Bucs hire new manager: Matt Priess - "Priess, who advanced as high as Class AA in the San Francisco Giants organization, is an engineer and is working on a master's degree in kinesiology. But Friday was his last day at his engineering job -- he begins work Monday as an assistant coach at the University of California."
8/22: Taipei thankful to set NBC first "Basically, we had to fight out butts off to make it this far," Foresters third baseman Kevin Frandsen said. "It's been that kind of tournament. The teams that showed the most character stayed around, I think."
8/19: Can't wait 'til next year "The Goldpanners, though unable to repeat as champions, do have the consolation of being the only team to defeat eventual champion Chinese Taipai, which in winning the title became the first international titleholder of the NBC series. The Goldpanners, while losing this year, nevertheless retain their overall series record of six titles."
8/17: Chinese Taipei gives foreign substance to NBC World Series "Chinese Taipei became the first foreign team in the 69-year history of the World Series to win the championship with a 5-0 win over the Santa Barbara" | TAIPEI'S TITLE | Chinese Taipei shuts out Santa Barbara for NBC tournament title
8/16: Chinese Taipei - First International team to ever win NBC title (Fairbanks edges Chinese Taipei)
8/14: Heat upsets Goldpanners in 15 innings - "A pair of hit batters to open the first inning led to two Havasu runs. An error in the bottom of the fifth gave Fairbanks a run. The Goldpanners tied the game on a bases-loaded double play ball in the sixth."
8/11: Panners fall to Heat in 15 innings
8/9: Baseball around the clock - Richard Larson "The Panners' most famous roster addition for the World Series came in 1983 when they added Barry Bonds to the lineup. Bonds joined an outfield that already featured Oddibe McDowell and Shane Mack. Bonds batted .222 in six World Series games with the Panners as the team went 4-2 and came up shy of the title. Bonds had a double, walked three times, scored two runs, drove in two runs and stole four bases in five attempts."
8/9: AIA advances in tourney "The win enabled Athletes in Action to join the Alaska Goldpanners as one of the eight remaining teams who will remain unbeaten after today's action in the 44th annual.."
8/8: Panners move forward Fairbanks team first to advance "With a large contingent of the crowd yelling for the Panners countered by Taipei fans cheering loudly in Chinese, Thursday's high-energy contest was a nail-biter down to the final out."
8/8: Fairbanks edges Chinese Taipei "It was huge," Blasi said. "The first pitch was a fastball. I sat on it. Then he came in with sliders. I had to scoot up and scoot in. I didn't like it, but he went slider, slider, slider. He finally hung one. This had a big championship feel to it. This team is one of the best, if not the best, on our side of the bracket. We figured we have to beat them sometime to move on."
8/8: Panners win battle of unbeaten teams "WICHITA, Kan. -- Top-seeded Fairbanks (32-16) became the first team to advance to the NBC's winner's bracket quarterfinals. It will play either Havasu (Ariz.) or Pueblo (Colo.) at 4:30 p.m. (ADT) Sunday.."
8/6: 07-31-03 Plane-crash - High Quality 209Kbps File (2.9 Mb)
8/6: Fairbanks claims key win "There was no particular pitch working," Timmons said. "My location was pretty good tonight. Getting the lead early was nice. These guys have been doing that for me all year. There wasn't really a lot of pressure. We've got five returning guys from last year. We're just going to play our game."
8/6: Title defense begins "Alaska Baseball League Player of the Year Sean Timmons was backed by an explosive offense as the Alaska Goldpanners opened defense of their National Baseball"
8/6: Panners roll to a shutout "WICHITA, Kan. -- With Sean Timmons on the mound and many other returning standouts in the lineup, it looked a little routine.."
8/6: Pilots/Wichita pitcher has one eye, lots of talent
8/5: Panners, AIA open Series play "The Alaska Goldpanners of Fairbanks and Athletes in Action-Alaska of North Pole will begin their drive for the National Baseball Congress World Series"
8/3: Fairbanks teams to square off in Wichita "The Alaska Goldpanners rallied to defeat the Anchorage Glacier Pilots 8-3 in last year's championship game in Wichita, Kan., giving the Panners a record six titles"
8/2: Panners finish tourney in 2nd Victory over Oilers not enough to garner them Wood Bat title - Rich "The Panners (34-17) travel to Wichita, Kan., to begin the National Baseball Congress World Series on Tuesday. As the defending national champion and this year's Alaska Baseball League champions, the Panners are the No. 1 seed in the tournament and will face the San Diego Waves at 4:30 p.m. (ADT)."
8/2: Sean Timmons (1994 | 1998 | 1999 | 2000 | 2001 | 2002 MVP | 2003) Working man wins ABL Player of Year "This is the seventh summer Timmons has played baseball for his hometown Fairbanks Goldpanners at night and earned a steady paycheck working 8-5 at a health clinic."
8/2: Plane Crash-Lands Near Athletic Fields - Tuscaloosa News "The wreck happened during the third inning of a minor-league (actually amateur - not pro or semi-pro - TDD) game between the Anchorage Bucs and the Fairbanks Goldpanners with about 500 people in attendance."
8/2: Baseball game interrupted by crash landing "The game between the Anchorage Bucs and the Fairbanks Goldpanners was in the third inning when the single-engine plane came in low."
8/2: Airplane Crash-Lands at Stadium in Alaska "The wreck happened during the third inning of a minor-league game between the Anchorage Bucs and the Fairbanks Goldpanners with about 500 people.."
8/1: Sean Timmons (94-98-99-00-01-02MVP-03) Named ABL Player of the Year "Timmons first made a brief appearance with the Panners in the 1994 season. After graduating from Armstrong College in Georgia, he returned in 1998 and has steadily earned more playing time each season. Last year, he was the most valuable starting pitcher for the Panners and this year, he topped that by being named the league's best player."
8/1: Four escape serious injuries "Ed Cheff, field manager of the Goldpanners, shook his head as he watched paramedics treat the brothers near the left field batting cage at Mulcahy. "I thought he was gonna land in the (baseball) field,'' Cheff said. "Four people lived through that? I don't believe it.''Neither did Goldpanners pitcher Clay Johnson, who saw the scene from the first base dugout. "I looked above the left field fence and it was about 40 feet off the ground,'' Johnson said. "It's one of the most amazing things I've ever seen in my life.''
8/1: Panners, Fire tie for first "During the third inning of the Panners-Bucs game, a small plane crashed behind the outfield wall. The pilot of the plane managed to land the craft between the outfield at Mulcahy and the nearby Anchorage Football Stadium where a youth soccer game was being played. There were no fatalities.One passenger walked away and others were taken to a hospital. The plane was inbound from the Cook Inlet area. The crash prompted a 47-minute delay before the Panners resumed batting in the top of the inning."
7/31: One swing of the bat enough for Fairbanks
7/31: Panners, Fire win dramatically "The Alaska Goldpanners and Athletes in Action Fire both posted dramatic last-at-bat victories to highlight Wednesday's action in the Anchorage Bucs Wood Bat'
7/30: Comeback kids head to Wichita "The ABL season makes its teams tournament tough because the competition is so good. It's rated the second-best summer league in the country by many. The top league (the Cape Cod League) doesn't send any teams to Wichita." * You must be joking, Andy.. *
7/30: Panners edge Fire "The league champion Alaska Goldpanners of Fairbanks and Athletes in Action of North Pole played 10 innings (tournament games are seven innings)"
7/30: On to Wichita "The Alaska Goldpanners, with a storied history, will try to defend the title they claimed last year by defeating the Anchorage Glacier Pilots.
7/28: Major-league scouts eye Wood Bat Invitational "One of those teams is the Fairbanks Goldpanners, winners of the ABL title and last year's NBC World Series champions."
7/23: Oilers grit out victory against Goldpanners - Clarion "The Peninsula Oilers gritted out a win Tuesday, defeating the Alaska Goldpanners of Fairbanks 9-8 in Alaska Baseball League play at Growden Memorial Park"
7/21: Fairbanks shows sunny disposition for Golden Days Parade "I NEVER GET tired of listening to the Frigidaires. The seemingly indefatigable Bill Stroecker, Karl Carlson and Rif Rafson play with enormous energy and enthusiasm. Being much in demand, they deserve thanks from the community for their willingness to entertain for Golden Days, where they've already played twice, and other events. "
7/19: Glacier Pilots hit game running "The Pilots snapped a 1-for-10 skid Wednesday by scoring four runs in the first inning of a 10-2 win over the Fairbanks Goldpanners." LATE THURSDAY | Pilots bounce back
7/18: Timmons shuts down Bucs' bats - "I know they were a little sluggish getting off the bus but heck they didn't get home until 4 o'clock this morning," Timmons said of his teammates. "All I ask every time I go out there is just to get me one or two."
7/17: Pitcher's bad idea works out just fine "Anchorage Glacier Pilots pitcher Steve Uhlmansiek did something stupid Wednesday before his start against the Fairbanks Goldpanners."
7/16: Pilots mired by Clay "Clay Johnson has had an up-and-down season for the Alaska Goldpanners, but on Tuesday the sophomore right-hander from the University of Washington was on top.." | Panners make use of charity
7/15: Rally puts Panners back on top "The Alaska Goldpanners scored a pair of unearned runs in the top of the ninth inning, breaking a 1-1 tie on their way to a 3-1 victory over the Anchorage Bucs | Panners make use of charity
7/10: Motivation to win has deep roots "Alaska Goldpanners manager Ed Cheff doesn't plan to change the color of his hair any time soon to motivate his team. "To me,'' said Cheff, "you play because you want to establish a legacy of who you are. You want to be a respected player. You get a mentality that you want to earn the respect of your teammates and the people you play against--that's the motivation. I don't think it comes from the coaches; I think it comes from within you.''
7/9: Budding Goldpanners, Fire rivalry good for Interior baseball ".. in three years, the Goldpanners and Athletes in Action rivalry has become just that, a rivalry."
6/30: Bucs hang on to beat Goldpanners "Brad Davis of the Alaska Goldpanners slides into third base after advancing on a fly ball out as Mike Thompson of the"
6/30: Goldpanners split twin bill with Oilers "The Oilers tied their four-game home series against the Fairbanks Goldpanners Thursday through Saturday at Coral Seymour Memorial Park." Oilers and Goldpanners split | Oilers grab their first league win
6/27: Peninsula drops to 0-6 in ABL after unearned run results in 1-0 "The Alaska Goldpanners of Fairbanks scored an unearned run in the ninth inning to defeat the Oilers 1-0 at Coral Seymour Memorial Park."
6/22: Baseball fun in the Midnight Sun "Jenson's job is maintenance of the bullpens.. But when snow-capped mountain ranges dot the landscape beyond the outfield fences of most ABL ballparks in idyllic wooded settings, life is pretty good. When they aren't at the ballpark, the players are fishing for salmon and coming across moose, caribou or bears in their back yard. Said Jenson: "This is better than any other summer I've had."
6/14: Panners return to Fairbanks - DN-M - Rich Larson "Playing for coach Cheff is always challenging and fun. He pushes you to be your best," said Welch, who pitched the Panners to a 2-1 win over the Peninsula Oilers on Monday in Kenai. "We're here to try to win some more ballgames and looking for another great experience like last year." Tyler Best said, "It's awesome. I've been waiting to come back up here the whole school year. To be back in Fairbanks playing ball is great. We've got a shot to win another national title." Pitcher Kyle Allen, who plays college ball at Orange Coast College in California, is one of the newcomers to this year's Panners squad. He was one of three pitchers used in the Panners 4-0 win over the Miners. "I feel kind of honored to have been invited," Allen said. "There are some high expectations here, some big shoes to fill."
6/13: Celebrate Panners' successes - DN-M - Rich Larson "Over the final weeks of the 2002 Alaska Baseball League season, I was on vacation in Minnesota. I missed most of the Alaska Goldpanners' surge at the end of the year that resulted in them tying the Anchorage Glacier Pilots for the best record in the Alaska Baseball League and then defeating the Pilots to win the National Baseball Congress tournament. I first noticed that they had won the national championship by seeing the photo of the Panners' celebratory dog pile on the front page of the newspaper as I switched flights in the home city of the runner-up Glacier Pilots."
Most Valuable Players
In 2003, Fairbanksan
By far, the most valuable position player in 2003 was Jeff Culpepper of Gonzaga. Jeff's 2003 performance vaulted him to the rarified Panner Pantheon, showing his other-worldly desire and skills. As displayed on the night of July 23, 2003, Jeff's refusal to lose or make an out willed his team to preposterous wins. On that evening, he produced a 7-for-7 performance, cementing his name in Goldpanners lore. His position with the baseball gods has been revealed before, such as when he collected the first hit in Seattle's SAFECO field history.
The symbolic 2002-2003 season MVPs belongs to Field Manager Ed Cheff. The mental approach he teaches to his student/athletes not only prepares them for the future, but brings immediate results for the season at hand. The Goldpanners are honored to have this Hall of Fame coach at the helm on the field.
The Alaska Goldpanners' 2003 season Most Valuable Players joined a very select group of players in what amounts to the Fairbanks organization's Hall of Fame. Past winners include some of the greatest names in the history of the sport (Nettles, Boone, Winfield), and some of the golden names in today's current field of top prospects (Heilman, Bush, Gassner).
MIDNIGHT SUN GAME:
2003 Pictures Pages
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