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Don Dennis
Chief Operating Officer


"..the most successful figure in NBC history.."
Fairbanks Return Brightens NBC | NBC Hall of Fame


Don Dennis & Bill Stroecker Management Team (1967-2010)

With H.A. (Red) Boucher and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame CEO and President, Greg Harris

"Sourdough Sam" Suplizio presenting rare Coors Beer from Colorado

With Paul W. Deese during formation of Pilots

Signing Broadcast Crew (Larry Rhody, l)

With Dave Winfield, Yankees Outfielder

Pre-game meeting at 2009 Midnight Sun Game with Todd Dennis

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With Don Dennis & Ben Hines

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1969 Board / 1973 Board

With Coach Ed Cheff

Don Dennis, Sportswriter:

(under construction)




  • Goldpanners

  • N.B.C. World Series


  • January 2007: Sam Suplizio - "The man never lived in Fairbanks, or Alaska, and all told he likely spent less than 10 weeks of his life spread out over 20 years in the 49th State.   Yet, he picked up the nickname of "Sourdough Sam." 

  • October 2006: Not Lost From History - "The Alaska League is a term often referred to as a means of encompassing baseball as it is known today in the 49th state.  However, the words "Alaska League" are a bit of a misnomer.  The best it has ever been -- and that happens to be the era from 1998 to the present -- is a strong association of teams joining together to give the appearance of a traditional league."

  • October 2002: Good to be a Goldpanner "Zak was welcomed back to work in the team's  Pannervision operation (due to his fine personality) but with a new field manager, Ed Cheff, the amount of playing time was to be determined.   The rest is history."

  • September 2002: A League Of Their Own "..just a year ago at the fall meeting the assembled general managers voted to change tie-breaking rules to make the head-to-head series the means of determining any advantage.    This rule alone should have prevented the creation of a new "post-season" game to create a final standing as the Goldpanners had a comfortable 5-2 season edge on the Pilots.."

  • August 2002: Many Happy Returns "A side observation on Blake (Gill).   He was cut out to be a Goldpanner.  I have witnessed many pickups over the years and never before have I seen a guy become integrated the way it happened for Gill.    By the third game of the tournament it seemed as though he had been with the team throughout the season.    A tribute to Blake and the other Goldpanner players who welcomed him aboard."

With Jesse Owens

"Veteran Baseball Guru"

“The best baseball I ever played was in the summer of 1982 for the Panners. I felt so privileged to be playing in Fairbanks among such talented players and for such a great skipper (Ben Hines), that it elevated my entire game. I owe that opportunity to Don Dennis and I will never forget it.”
 - UW Head Coach Lindsay Meggs

 One thing that is certain about the Alaska Goldpanners of Fairbanks ballclub is a learned approach to decision making. The team is powered by a volunteer Board of Directors which is behind every move made on and off the field. At the head of that body are two main figures: President William G. Stroecker, and General Manager Don Dennis.

This summer, the Goldpanners are celebrating a generation of leadership by both men -- Stroecker now in his 45th year of direct involvement with the club, and Dennis celebrating his 40th anniversary as General Manager. .

In 1963, Don was working as sports editor of The Daily Sentinel in Grand Junction, Colorado. It was at this time that he first met Panners’ team founder H.A. “Red” Boucher. The Goldpanners were barnstorming their way to the NBC tournament through Colorado, and Red used the opportunity to play the Grand Junction Eagles, a team for which Dennis was serving as business manager. .

As a result of Red’s flamboyant style, and the team’s impressive showing, Dennis and the entire town fell in love with the Alaskan allure. Though Red almost immediately began lobbying Don to come up to Fairbanks so he could take over management of the Goldpanners, other opportunities were knocking for him in the publishing world. It wasn’t until 1967 that they had a dramatic shift in their negotiations -- and the breakthrough came in the form of a flood.

 The waters of the Chena river severely overflowed their banks in 1967 and completely destroyed the ballpark. The club nearly found itself swept away as well. The flood’s water line, which embedded itself on the only remaining plank of the field’s outfield wall, marked the team’s most critical moment to date. It was in the aftermath of this Fairbanks tragedy that Don was finally persuaded to come to Fairbanks -- for a commitment of two years. He has been here ever since then, operating as the heart and soul for both Fairbanks and Alaskan baseball. . .

Years later, Boucher would describe these successful negotiations in 1967 as “the best thing I ever did for the Goldpanners.” Certainly, subsequent events have vindicated the decisions of all three men. Don has built a program that is second to none in the non-professional baseball world.

One key measure of his success has been the collection of state, national and international championships won during his tenure. In 2002, immediately following his orchestration of a record sixth National Baseball Congress championship, he was described as “the most successful figure in NBC history” -- a history that spans 80 years! Shortly thereafter, his level of achievement was given special recognition by his induction into the the NBC World Series Hall of Fame.

Through his generation of leadership, Don Dennis has led Fairbanks and the Goldpanners organization in their emergence above the high water mark in the baseball world -- making the Alaska Goldpanners of Fairbanks the most successful non-professional team in the history of baseball.

“I have a lot of respect for Don Dennis. He is one of the all-time great guys in amateur baseball.” - Ed Cheff (02-03-04-05-06)
“Don has an amazing eye for baseball talent. That, combined with his ability to successfully recruit an unparalleled number of talented future big leaguers, administrate, and coordinate every facet of the Goldpanner organization, leaves me in awe of Don’s accomplishments the past 40 years. Don is loyal, honest, smart, an astute businessman, a terrific father and has been a great friend to me and my two Goldpanner sons, Scott (2001-02-MVP and National Champs) and Tommy (2005). I feel blessed to count him as my friend. The Goldpanners have had a remarkable run and owe much of this success and winning tradition to Don Dennis.” - Bruce Robinson (72-72-37-47-75) .

“Don has touched so many peoples lives with his coordination of the finest place to play summer baseball in the world. He has connected with families to house players, advertisers, sponsors, workers, volunteers, the media, etc.; all of them for one purpose: to make Fairbanks the jewel of the Alaska League and the greatest experience for the amateur baseball player. He has been a business associate, a mentor, a surrogate father, and an inspiration to many people in baseball. “ - Jerry McClain (67-68)

“The institution he has built in Fairbanks should itself be enshrined in the Hall of Fame. Who has created that kind of history in the baseball world? It’s the players on the field who paint the picture but those opportunities would not have been there without Don. What would have happened to those hundreds of players that parlayed their Fairbanks summers into major league careers? What would have happened to all the rest of us who simply had the best summers of our lives with the Goldpanners? I’ve never been the same.” - Gero von Dehn (01-02-03-04)

“I had the great privilege of working alongside Don for three summers (1972-74) in Fairbanks, and the experience remains one of the most rewarding I have had in all my years in baseball. Of course, it didn’t hurt that the Goldpanners won the NBC World Series championship all three years I was there. Don has certainly been the inspiration for all the success the Goldpanners have had through the years, and all the recognition he receives this year on his 40th anniversary with the team is justly deserved. There has never been a summer league general manager who can match his dedication and record of success. Congratulations, Don." - Allan Simpson, Founder, Baseball America

“Don has been a baseball mentor to many of us, and for that I thank him. Sitting around, grabbing a bite, and talking baseball ranks right up there with any baseball memory that I have ever had. Don is just a special human being”
Elliot Strankman (03-04-05-06)

1975 Goldpanners Yearbook

The day to day operation of the Alaska Goldpanners is handled by Don Dennis, who has been with the club since the latter part of 1967 when he moved to Fairbanks from Colorado.   Dennis serves as general manager of the club and in that capacity is responsible for all pre-season preparations and off the field activities year round.  The 35-year old Dennis, who doubles as editor of the Fairbanks Daily News Miner, this year was honored as the first National Baseball Congress "Executive of the Year" at the organization's annual banquet in February in Wichita, Kan., home of the national tournament.  Dennis came to Fairbanks as business manager of the team in 1967 following the disastrous Fairbanks flood, which put the financial condition of the team in disarray.  The team has since moved into the black and now operates on a $141,000 budget, nearly three times that of the mid 1960's.  In addition to the Goldpanners Dennis is extremely active in Fairbanks sports circles.  He serves as Executive Director of the Boys Club of Fairbanks; promotes and does the color work on University of Alaska basketball broadcasts; previously served for three years as the sports information director at the University of Alaska ; serves on the Board of Directors of the Fairbanks Quarterback Club ; is a league officer in both the Babe Ruth and America Legion baseball programs; served as tournament director of the 1975 Multiple Sclerosis Alaska Basketball Tournament of Champions; directed operations of the Fairbanks Amateur Basketball League during the 1974-75 season ; serves on the Board of Directors of the North Star Little Dribblers basketball association ; helped organize the highly successful University of Alaska Blue & Gold Club and on and on.  For his efforts, Dennis was recognized as the Fairbanks "Sportsman of the year" in 1973 by the Fairbanks Quarterback Club.   Previous to joining the Goldpanners in 1967 Dennis had worked three years with the Grand Junction, Colo. Eagles as business manager and in other capacities, and in 1967 he founded the Southern Colorado Diablos of Pueblo, the forerunner of the Olympia Brewers team which appears on the Goldpanners' 1975 schedule.



Winfield, Dennis,

Presenting award to "Sourdough" Sam Suplizio

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Bill, Ben, and Don


1971 Yearbook "Don Dennis is the man behind the financial operations of the Alaska Goldpanners baseball program.  Dennis, the club's general manager, is in his fourth year with the organization.  Dennis came to Fairbanks following the disastrous flood of August 1967 and has been the overseer of the off-field phases of the team since that time.  The general manager has a 11-year background in non-professional baseball, which began in 1960 as an advisor to the highly successful Grand Junction, Colo., Eagles baseball team. Following four years with the Grand Junction team Dennis went to Pueblo, Colo., where he founded the non-professional Pueblo Diablos - a team that was born on May 1 and played a double-header against the defending national champion Boulder, Colo., Collegians on June 5 for its first action.  The Diablos made a swift rise to success and today rate behind only Grand Junction and Boulder in Colorado's fast non-professional circles." more...



June 30, 1985 - Fairbanks Daily News-Miner "Dennis Family Goes Nuts for the Panners"

Since the beginning of Don's career with the Goldpanners, his family has played a large role in stadium operations.  All of his children have served in capacities through the years, covering the whole spectrum from refreshment sales to broadcasting, and all the way up to year-round roles like the Assistant General Manager position.  In 2005, Don's grandson Thomas worked as an official team cameraman and concessions volunteer.

Don's wife Ann has always worked side by side in all aspects of his professional pursuits, and likewise shares a lifelong passion for baseball.   Ann has functioned in countless areas of importance, from oversight of personnel to serving as team driver during barnstorming journeys across Alaska and the continental United States.  She has performed many management duties with the Goldpanners, including superintendence of the concessions operation and administration of the Olympic Training Village.


Ann has worked in nearly all departments of the Goldpanner organization as well as pursuing her lifelong artistic career in pottery.  She has pieces worldwide, and  currently works from her studio in Southern California.

Dennis Family Website

Todd, Tom & Don Dennis

Oldest Son Scott  Receiving Dave Winfield

Todd, Don, and son Steve's family

With Son Todd and
 Daughter Teena

Teena (center) working at Concession Stand

Baseball loaded with family ties

Todd Dennis doesn’t hit home runs, steal bases or throw strikes, but he may be the greatest utility man in Alaska Goldpanners history.

Dennis rarely misses an inning of baseball at Fairbanks’ Growden Memorial Park, where he has performed about every off-the-field duty imaginable. He started as a pint-sized independent contractor, chasing down foul balls and selling them back to the team for 70 cents apiece. He joined the Goldpanners payroll at 9, hawking hot dogs while walking the stands. Since, he’s stacked cases of beers, operated a baseball card shop, worked the scoreboard, launched the team’s Web site and ascended to his current title of assistant general manager.

Dennis might not be a player, but he credits his success to a coach — his longtime employer, mentor and father, Goldpanners general manager Don Dennis. For both Dennises, and thousands of others who play or follow the game, baseball is as much about family as it is sport.

“There’s stuff you don’t forget, like growing up a ballpark rat, hanging out with the diehards at the park,” Todd Dennis, 34, said about his time spent at Growden, “but the greatest joy of all is working with my dad and my family.”

Long before columnists dissected baseball’s fallible Bonds, poets pontificated about baseball’s familial bonds. It’s a game of parents and children, from the Ripkens, Griffeys, Boones and Bondses to generations of fans playing catch in the parking lot before a game. It’s a game of brothers, like the DiMaggios, Aarons, Alous and Drews. In the stands, fathers, mothers, sons and daughters discuss strategy and share a summer night over hot dogs and Cokes. Those scenes play out each summer at ballparks across the country and here at Alaska Baseball League ballparks.

Most ABL players even gain new families as locals open their homes as host parents. If you look at the folks running ABL concession stands, ticket booths and the front offices, you’ll often see faces with similar features. For a baseball player, success requires skill, confidence, quick hands and even luck. Success for ABL management comes from experience, hard work and a good home team: partners and children who are as much co-workers than fans.

Don Dennis is entering his 40th year with the Goldpanners. He wonders how long he would have lasted if his family — wife Ann and four children — hadn’t shared his passion for baseball and sacrificed many summer hours working with him.

“It’s hard to explain to someone how much support it really takes,” Dennis, 66, said. “With (amateur) baseball, you pretty much have to live and breathe this to make it all happen on the kind of budgets we have. Over the years, my entire family has participated in numerous ways, and they are the best help. They anticipate most things and always follow through. They are invaluable.”

Mat-Su Miners general manager Pete Christopher appreciates that comment. For four seasons Christopher has had a staff of three family members assist him in Miners management. Wife Denise is a marketing whiz and secretary on the board of directors. Son Keith, 15, mows the field while little brother Kevin, 11, runs the scoreboard and occasionally sings “Take Me Out To The Ballgame” during the seventh-inning stretch.

“Without the support of your family in this business,” Denise said before her voice trailed off, “I couldn’t even imagine.”

Neither could Todd Dennis. Dennis also can’t imagine a summer without baseball or family, which now extends to his son Tom, the Goldpanners official photographer. Tom is 10.


Amateur baseball fan, friend reminisces

Chieftain sportswriter Dave Socier

2006, WICHITA, Kan. - The second most famous man to hail from Fowler, Colo., was the guy most upset Friday when the Pueblo Chieftains lost an 11-1 winner's bracket game to Havasu, Ariz.

Don Dennis, second banana only to Fowler native Dutch Clark, has roots in Pueblo. He's the person who started the Pueblo Diablos, which begat the Olympia Brewers, which eventually led to the Pueblo Chieftains semipro baseball team.

"I've never rooted for a prospective opposing team to come through as much in my life," he said over a cup of coffee.

Had the Chieftains won, they would have been playing in tonight's feature game in the winner's bracket against the defending champion (Fairbanks) Alaska Goldpanners in the 69th annual National Baseball Congress World Series.

Instead, the Chieftains have been sent to Hobart-Detter Field in Hutchinson for an 10 a.m. MDT loser's bracket gut check against the winner of Saturday night's late game pitting the Parksville (Mo.) Sluggers and Long Beach Strikers.

Donald Anson Dennis has never forgotten his Southern Colorado roots: he was a proud member of the Fowler Grizzlies, he attended Pueblo Junior College, he was sent on his way to a fabulous career in sports administration by Harry Simmons, he was the Diablos GM and he spent five years as a Pueblo Chieftain sportswriter.

He was married in Brush to the lovely and personable Annette Miller of Sturgis, S.D., then went to Fairbanks in 1967 "for just two years," but stayed and put his imprint on national semipro baseball like only a few before him.

"When I look back on it, all the times and all the teams, the best years I ever spent were in Pueblo," Dennis said. "The names keep coming back, like Joe Bonacquista, Ralph Huddin, Guy Kennedy, Joe Taravella. Working with Bill McClatchey and Jack Hildner.

"It was (PJC basketball coach) Harry Simmons who started me on the path I took," Dennis said, still in awe of The Chief. "He needed to get his basketball players some money legally, so he appointed me commissioner of officials for this basketball league. I'd assign his players to ref the games, and they'd get five or six bucks, and then they were happy."

He met H.A. "Red" Boucher, the Goldpanners' boss, "And he recruited me to come run the team just like he would a player," Dennis said.

"He worked me hard, wrote me, called me, stayed on my case. Finally, Ann and I sat down and listed the reasons to go: 1. Adventure (they were in their mid-20s), and 2.) A lot more money. We listed the reason not to go and there was only one: We didn't want to leave Pueblo or Colorado." "Finally, we agreed to go for two years. Alaska is a great place for young people. Opportunities abound. I was the Goldpanners' GM, the sports editor of the newspaper and after two weeks there the sports information director at (the University of Alaska-) Fairbanks." He hired Oregon University assistant Jim Dietz and away they went, winning NBC championships in 1972-74, ’76 and ’80.

The roster of former Goldpanners is a Who's Who: Tom Seaver, Barry Bonds, Dave Winfield, Harold Reynolds, Alvin Davis, Phil Stephenson, Joe Magrane, Dave Kingman, Rick Monday and Mike Boddicker.

Dennis and NBC brass crossed swords in 1981, so the Goldpanners either went to other tournaments or held their own for 15 years.

During the interim, Dennis formed the Alaska Baseball League. He traveled to Anchorage and Kenai and Palmer and helped start teams like his own. Six clubs are in the circuit, and to heighten competition, league bylaws allow only the top two teams to compete here. "I'm not trying to brag, but if we sent all six teams we'd all but take over the NBC World Series," he said.

Fairbanks came back to Wichita only after the Anchorage Glacier Pilots won their fifth crown, equaling Fairbanks. The Goldpanners won in 2002, "Our best win since we beat Anchorage in the championship game," Dennis beamed, fingering the 2002 World Series ring he wears.

Dennis retired in 1998 from his 19-year day job as manager for Arctic Slope Regional Corporation. He and Ann moved to San Diego but still Don treks to Fairbanks in May to start the summer team. "There's a new generation out there now, and we do so much with the Internet It actually takes two people to do the job I did," he said. "That's because we're into to Pay Per View for our games and (youngest son) Todd is heading up that operation. And so, except for that elusive Chieftains loss Friday, Donald Anson Dennis has had it all: a great marriage, four wonderful children and a sports career that brought him to the zenith of amateur baseball.