The Oilers Gusher came back with a bang last year and the beginning of the Oiler's Hall of Fame, something that was long overdue for baseball lovers in the land of the midnight sun. "There are many community members, players, and coaches who have contributed to the success of the Peninsula Oilers. Through contributions of time, money, playing abilities, baseball knowledge, patience, and sense of humor, the Oilers have become one of the finest summer baseball programs in the nation. Because of these reasons in 2010, the Oilers Board of Directors instituted the Oiler's Hall of Fame as a way to show their appreciation to those individuals and new members will be elected every year," said Shawn Maltby, Oiler general manager.
"We stay in touch with the players we've housed during the summer and long after their baseball career has run its course they remember their Alaskan experience and that we don't have lighted ball fields here in the land of the midnight sun and how we as an organization treated them and helped them with awesome coaches to work through issues. Many times, even those who went on to the majors recall their Alaskan experience as the highlight of their career," commented Sharon Hale, past president of the Oiler board of directors.
This year's Oiler Hall of Fame inductees included the late Max Swearingen, former owner with Pat O'Connell and Dick Morgan of the Peninsula Clarion, Ron Malston, who served on the Oilers board of directors since the early seventies, outfielder Rick Peters, who still holds the all time highest batting average for the Oilers at .375 and played in the majors with the Detroit Tigers and Oakland A's, pitcher Frank Viola who made his major league debut with the Minnesota Twins in 1982 and helped the Twins to their first World Series win in 1987, and pitcher Steve Glaum, who traveled from central California with his wife to be present for the induction. Glaum was drafted by the San Diego Padres in 1976 and the Detroit Tigers in 1977, he still holds Oiler pitching records including lowest ERA at 1.39, most completed games pitched in a season, second most started, and second most innings pitched.
"When I first got the phone call I couldn't believe anyone still remembered someone like me 35 years ago, but coming back up here and being with my host Mom and seeing the house I lived in and helped her husband Dick Swarner build when I was here was really great. She took my wife and I on a tour of the area and really I can't remember anything else because everything has changed so much, but of course it was summertime when I was here and I've never seen the Alaskan winter, but what hasn't changed is the warmth and hospitality of the community and the passion for the game that is still here. I have two sons playing college baseball now and doing well, but for the kids who have a chance to come to Alaska and live with the people here it's a learning experience that molds a ball player like no other. Baseball is still America's favorite pastime, but being challenged for the next generation by high-tech stuff, so it's so important to keep baseball opportunities like here in the Alaska league open for the future generations so that the passion and the love of the game will not be lost. I may be up there in age but I'm still playing the game that I've loved ever since I was five years old, because I'm still playing fast pitch softball now on a nationally competitive level and doing well, so all I can say is baseball has done a great thing for my life and my family's life," said Glaum.
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