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Super fan

Galbraith has cheered for Alaska Goldpanners for over three decades

Posted: Sunday, August 07, 2005

 

  Terry Galbraith watches a Goldpanner's game against the Anchorage Glacier Pilots Thursday night, July 28, 2005 at Growden Memorial Park in Fairbanks, Alaska. Galbraith, 38, has been attending Goldpanner games for more than 30 years. He belongs to an elite circle of fans who know the players by name and vice versa. He travels with the team for away games and hangs out at Growden Memorial Park so much they gave him a job. AP Photo/Fairbanks Daily News Mi

Terry Galbraith watches a Goldpanner's game against the Anchorage Glacier Pilots Thursday night, July 28, 2005 at Growden Memorial Park in Fairbanks, Alaska. Galbraith, 38, has been attending Goldpanner games for more than 30 years. He belongs to an elite circle of fans who know the players by name and vice versa. He travels with the team for away games and hangs out at Growden Memorial Park so much they gave him a job.

AP Photo/Fairbanks Daily News Mi

FAIRBANKS, Alaska — Terry Galbraith sat in the bleachers behind home plate at Growden Memorial Park munching peanut M&Ms and watching the Alaska Goldpanners play their last home game on a recent Thursday.

He traded jabs with nearby fans and yelled cues to Goldpanners announcer Zak Basch, reminding him to broadcast the winning numbers for the 50/50 drawing or to identify a new pitcher taking the mound.

When Goldpanner outfielder ''Mighty Quinn'' Stewart hit a home run out of the park, Galbraith appraised the pitch: ''That was a fast ball, right down the middle.''

Galbraith, 38, has been attending Goldpanner games for more than 30 years. He belongs to an elite circle of fans who know the players by name and vice versa.

''I get along with the players,'' he said. ''It's fun to watch.''

He travels with the team for away games and hangs out at Growden Memorial Park so much they gave him a job. After every game, Galbraith marches up several flights of stairs to the press box to clear the electronic scoreboard.

Terry is developmentally delayed; he has trouble remembering things, but not when it comes to baseball.

''One thing he can understand is baseball,'' said Angie Galbraith, his adoptive mother.

Galbraith was raised in Anchorage since shortly after his birth — his birth mother is from Ruby.

Every summer he visited the late Carl Noble of Fairbanks, known as one of the biggest Goldpanner boosters in the team's history. Noble was Angie's ex-husband but Terry knew him as his grandfather, she said.

When Galbraith turned 5, Noble took him to his first game.

''After that, Terry just kept on going to ball games,'' she said.

In 1984, Galbraith was the Goldpanner's batboy.

In 1990, his mother retired from a state job and the family moved to Fairbanks. By then, Terry had graduated from West High School.

Watching the Goldpanners became Galbraith's de facto summer occupation.

One year, according to the team's assistant manager, Todd Dennis, Galbraith wanted to travel with the team so badly that he accepted the only seat available on the organization's motor home, the toilet.

He never complained, said Dennis, whose father is the team's general manager.

''He even gets the crowds in our favor at opposing parks,'' Dennis said.

Galbraith routinely surprises the team by showing up unannounced at games in Anchorage and Kenai. When asked, he'll say he rode his bike the 300 or more miles.

According to Terry's mother, two of his four sisters chauffeur him to out-of-town games.

''The one here hauls him to Anchorage,'' she said. ''The one in Anchorage hauls him to Kenai.''

Regardless of the ballpark, Galbraith always makes an impression. He once turned up by surprise at a series in Anchorage against the Bucs and by the time the series was over, he was working for the opposing team selling programs, Dennis said.

Galbraith wore a uniform of jeans, a jacket with a sports team's logo and a Goldpanners cap at a recent home game. A package of sunflower seeds bulged in his jacket pocket.

He carried his signature duffel bag, containing a rain jacket, a Walkman, three baseball caps and a baseball.

After the final inning — the Goldpanners won — Galbraith expertly maneuvered a set of rickety wooden stairs leading to the press box where Basch was just coming down from calling the game. Basch was the Goldpanner's relief pitcher in 2001 and 2002 and returns to Fairbanks to announce games.

''Terry's just another integral part of the Goldpanner family,'' he said. ''He's at every game, rain or shine. He never leaves early.''

Elliott Strankman, the team's assistant coach, agreed.

''He's one of our No. 1 fans for sure,'' he said.

Eddie Romero, the team's 19-year-old southpaw pitcher, said Terry made him feel welcome when he arrived earlier this summer.

''He's one of those fans who is there for you no matter what,'' Romero said. ''He's always smiling. He's always joking around.''

The Goldpanners ended this year's regular season as Alaska Baseball League champions with a record of 24-6. With baseball ending, Galbraith plans to turn his attention to job hunting and watching hockey.



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