ANCHORAGE, Alaska (Reuters) – Baseball fans in Alaska were fuming after a traditional midnight game, held every year without lights during the twilight hours of the summer solstice, was postponed because a visiting California team complained it was too dark.
Umpires officiating the Alaska Baseball League amateur game suspended play with the score tied 1-1 in the 10th inning at about 1:30 am on Wednesday, roughly three hours after the matchup started.
The contest between the home-team Goldpanners of Fairbanks, Alaska, and the Waves of Oceanside, California, resumed on Wednesday evening, and the Goldpanners ultimately won, 2-1.
The Midnight Sun Baseball Game has been played in Fairbanks each year since 1906 on the night of the summer solstice each June 21, when the glow from the years longest day allows the game to continue into the wee hours without artificial light.
Fairbanks is slightly south of the Arctic Circle, so the sun does set briefly on the summer solstice. But even then, it dips just below the horizon, providing some light to see.
This year marked the first time in its history that the unilluminated night game had been postponed, though in 1984 a visiting team from Taiwan forfeited altogether when its players likewise complained of poor visibility, officials said.
This almost happens every year. The opposing team starts chirping about postponing the game due to darkness because theyre usually behind, said the Goldpanners assistant general manager, Todd Dennis.
The umpires should have simply ignored the California teams complaints, Dennis said.
Dennis conceded that rain and dark clouds on solstice night contributed to the decision to postpone the game.
Anchorage television station KTUU captured video from the game where an umpire said, We cant play in this light, its dangerous. The umpire also said the game had to be postponed for the health and safety of these guys.
The Alaska Baseball League is made up of college athletes who venture north to keep playing in the off-season.
(Editing by Alex Dobuzinskis and Steve Gorman)