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Fun in the sun: 24 hours of baseball in Alaska

Summer solstice brings 113th Midnight Sun Game to Fairbanks
MLB.com

Major League Baseball celebrated the 113th Midnight Sun Game by organizing an unprecedented 24 hours of Play Ball events around this year's game in Fairbanks, Alaska.

Throughout the 24-hour period of daylight during summer solstice, MLB and its partners -- the American Legion, PONY Baseball and Softball, USA Baseball and USA Softball -- hosted a number of baseball and softball activities for both adults and kids.

Major League Baseball celebrated the 113th Midnight Sun Game by organizing an unprecedented 24 hours of Play Ball events around this year's game in Fairbanks, Alaska.

Throughout the 24-hour period of daylight during summer solstice, MLB and its partners -- the American Legion, PONY Baseball and Softball, USA Baseball and USA Softball -- hosted a number of baseball and softball activities for both adults and kids.

Video: Play Ball joins Midnight Sun Game celebration

During the "Open Session" Play Ball events, approximately 600 youth players, ages 6 to 12, ran through informal baseball and softball stations. The day's other activities included games featuring baseball and softball organizations -- including the Armed Forces Softball League, American Legion, Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI) and USA Baseball and USA Softball -- which culminated with the Midnight Sun Game.

Video: Lohrke pleased to have Midnight Sun Game for city

The main event was between collegiate summer baseball teams, the Alaska Goldpanners and the Orange County Surf at Fairbanks' Growden Park. It began at 10 p.m. local time and did not use any artificial light. The Midnight Sun Game was first played in 1906 and has been hosted annually by the Goldpanners since 1960, their first year of competition.

Video: Bean discusses 24 Hours of Play Ball in Alaska

Billy Bean, a former big leaguer and MLB's vice president and special assistant to the Commissioner, was in attendance. Bean was named the Goldpanners' Most Valuable Player in 1985.

Tweet from @PlayBall: The finishing touch to 24 hours of #PlayBall?The @RealGoldpanners' Midnight Sun Game. pic.twitter.com/AAnkMIwKgB

Here's a recap from this one-of-a-kind event:

Fairbanks, June 21 -- 11 p.m.
For years, baseball fans from all over the world have gathered to watch the collegiate summer baseball team, the Alaska Goldpanners, play in the Midnight Sun Game. The game, which began at 10 p.m. Alaska time, did not use any artificial light, but it was lit instead by the summer solstice.

Video: Matherly discusses Midnight Sun Game, its location

Fairbanks, June 21 -- 9:30 p.m.
During the Midnight Sun Game pregame ceremonies, Jim Matherly, mayor of Fairbanks, and Karl Kassel, mayor of Fairbanks North Star Borough, adorn the Play Ball baseball with the Alaska state stamp. Play Ball has traveled to 25 (half!) of the United States!

Video: Mayors adorn the Play Ball baseball with Alaska Stamp

Fairbanks, June 21 -- 8 p.m.
Gates open at Growden Park for the Midnight Sun Game; enter Marc Christensen, Larry Bingham, Michael Cronk -- three retired baseball fans from San Francisco touring the country one ballpark at a time. Since beginning their quest in 2010, they've visited all 30 big league parks and 82 Minor League parks.

Video: MLB celebrates summer solstice in Fairbanks, AK

This trip began in Seattle before heading to Anchorage and then Fairbanks for the Midnight Sun Game. Growdin is the fifth ballpark of their visit to Alaska. Missing from their crew on this trip is Gary Bingham, brother of Larry.

Fairbanks, June 21 -- 2:30 p.m.
Play Ball is all about bringing the game to places it hasn't thrived traditionally, or perhaps in a long time. While you may not think of Alaska when you think baseball, the game is alive and well in America's north-most state. More than 300 kids came out for a Play Ball doubleheader event ahead of the Midnight Sun Game.

Fairbanks, June 21 -- 9 a.m
Based here in Alaska, these men and women serve our country in the Air Force and Army. Today, we salute them as they take the diamond.

Fairbanks, June 21 -- 8 a.m.
Little League is serious business up in Alaska. With limited months to play the game outside, two teams from the Anchorage Boys & Girls Club made the eight-hour bus trek up to Fairbanks to play with local PONY and RBI teams to celebrate a full day of sunlight. That's Fairbanks in red, with Anchorage in blue.

 

Fairbanks, June 21 -- 1:00 a.m.
How's this for a baseball sky at one o'clock in the morning?

Fairbanks, June 21 -- 12:01 a.m.
The first of many pitches on the day is thrown as American Legion Post 30 faces American Legion Post 11 in Game 1 of 24 Hours of Play Ball.

Video: Riccobono excited for 24 Hours of Play Ball in Alaska

Fairbanks, June 20 -- 11:56 p.m.
Bean, Rick Riccobono (chief development officer, USA Baseball) and David James (vice president, baseball and softball development, Major League Baseball) throw out the first pitch to begin the 24 hours of Play Ball in Fairbanks, Alaska in celebration of the summer solstice.

Shannon Ford is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter @Shannon__Ford.