The date was July 28, 1993 — the day before my 25th birthday. At 6:45 p.m., I was standing on a baseball field in North Pole, a small community 15 miles southeast of Fairbanks, waiting for the game to begin. Our team — the Alyeska Pipeline Tigers – was about to face the North Pole Titans.
I was the center fielder. While we waited for the game to start, the pitcher and catcher hit ground balls to the infielders. I vividly recall the sounds: the soft metallic “clink” of the bat, the leathery “thwap” as the ball hit the first baseman’s mitt. Dragonflies whizzed past, darting across the green grass at Newby Field, once home to a former Alaska Baseball League team called the North Pole Nicks.
Oh, yeah, and once every few minutes, I heard thunder. It seemed distant. I looked up and saw nothing but blue sky. Far to the east, past the center field fence, were some clouds.