FAIRBANKS — Don Dennis, who has helped guide the Alaska Goldpanners of the Alaska Baseball League for more than 45 years, was announced Wednesday as a recipient of a 2013 Directors’ Award for the Alaska Sports Hall of Fame.
Dennis was among four recipients and he received the Joe Floyd Award, which is named for the longtime baseball coach in Kodiak and recognizes significant and lasting contributions to sports in Alaska.
The Directors’ Awards are voted on by the board of directors of the Alaska Sports Hall of Fame to honor individuals or groups for their contributions, actions and achievements in sports during the past year or in recent years.
Dennis and the other recipients will be recognized along with the Class of 2013 inductees during the hall of fame’s induction ceremony on Feb. 26 at
7:30 p.m. in the Anchorage Museum of History and Art.
Among the Class of 2013 inductees are Buck Nystrom for individuals and the Equinox Marathon for events. Nystrom became the state’s all-time winningest high school football coach
(150-88) while guiding Eielson and North Pole for 31 seasons.
Dennis’ award marks the third that the hall of fame has honored an individual or event associated with the Goldpanners.
Red Boucher, the team’s founder, was inducted as an individual in 2009, and the annual Midnight Sun Game at Growden Memorial Park was a 2010 inductee for events.
Dennis and Boucher, according to information from the Goldpanners website, first met in 1963, when Dennis was the sports editor of the Daily Sentinel in Grand Junction, Colo. Dennis also at the time was the business manager for the Grand Junction Eagles, who were playing the Goldpanners during Alaska’s barnstorming tour through Colorado.
Dennis became general manager of the Goldpanners in 1967, and under his guidance, the team has captured a record six National Baseball Congress World Series titles (1972, 1973, 1974, 1976, 1980 and 2002).
Dennis also helped bring in players for the Goldpanners who later became Major League Baseball stars, such as Tom Seaver, Dave Winfield, Barry Bonds and Michael Young.
Dennis was inducted into the National Baseball Congress Hall of Fame in 2004 and he is currently the chief operating officer for the Goldpanners. His son, Todd, serves as the team’s general manager.
The other Directors’ Awards recipients are West Anchorage High School junior Paul Tandy, who is blind but competes for the Eagles wrestling team; the Nunaka Valley girls softball team of Anchorage; and Miami Heat point guard Mario Chalmers, a Bartlett High School graduate.
Tandy, who also maintains a 4.0 grade-point average, received the Trajan Langdon Award for leadership, sportsmanship and inspiration. The Nunaka Valley softball team, last year’s Junior League World Series champion, garnered the Pride of Alaska Award for females. Chalmers, who helped the Heat gain their second NBA championship last season, received the Pride of Alaska Award for males.
The Pride of Alaska honors recognize consistent excellence in athletic competition.