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Alaska Baseball

Fairbanks Goldpanners cancel games after several players test positive for COVID-19

  • Author: Beth Bragg
  • Updated: June 16
  • Published June 15

The Fairbanks Goldpanners baseball team canceled its second straight game Tuesday because of a COVID-19 breakout among players.

Several players have tested positive in recent days, Goldpanners media director Henry Cole said by email Tuesday.

“In the last few days, we have had several players test positive for COVID-19,” Cole wrote. “In order to protect the health and safety of our team and visiting teams, we have cancelled yesterday’s and today’s Goldpanner games. We will continuously re-evaluate the situation in partnership with our team physicians and will not return to play until it is safe to do so.”

Tuesday’s game against the San Diego Waves and Monday’s game against Berkovich 35 were canceled, with no makeup dates immediately set.

The games were part of the three-day Denali State Bank tournament at Growden Memorial Park in Fairbanks.

Goldpanners general manager John Lohrke told the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner he doesn’t think the outbreak will impact the 116th Midnight Sun Classic, which as always is set to begin at 10 p.m. on Monday, June 21, the night of the Summer Solstice.

“We expect to be out of the woods by then,” Lohrke said.

The Goldpanners are one of the original members of the Alaska Baseball League. Although they now operate independently from the league, their schedule always includes games against ABL teams. Fairbanks played a series in Kenai against the Peninsula Oilers earlier this month and is scheduled to play road games against the Mat-Su Miners, Chugiak Chinooks and Anchorage Glacier Pilots early next month.

Though Tuesday’s Goldpanners game was canceled, the night’s other game between Berkovich 35 and the OC Riptide was scheduled to be played at 7 p.m.

Lohrke told the News-Miner the Goldpanners, who are 5-4 on the season, are likely to resume play Wednesday.

“With the available players we have it’ll be a short squad for a few days, but we want to get guys back on the field for our fans, for the business community, for everybody,” he said. “... We want to complete as much of the schedule as possible.”

All of Alaska’s summer-league teams took last season off because of the pandemic. A description of COVID-19 protocols for either the Goldpanners or the Alaska Baseball League could not be found on either group’s websites.