The Napoleon American Legion baseball team has been traveling to Alaska for more than a decade, but this summer they experienced something new ... a heat wave.
During the River Bandits’ trip to Alaska from June 28 through July 7 temperatures reached above 90 degrees, which were record highs for the The Last Frontier.
According to the National Weather Service, the average temperature in Anchorage, Alaska, on July 4 is 75 degrees. This year it was 85 degrees and it went up to 90 degrees the next day — a record high temperature for Alaska.
“There were record highs,” said Napoleon Legion baseball team general manager Randy Bachman, who made his 10th visit to Alaska. “There were people swimming and (water) skiing, and that never happens in Alaska.
“We were not prepared for the weather,” added Bachman. “We packed sweatshirts and winter hats. I only packed one T-shirt. Most days were in the 80s and the last day it was 90. I had to go buy more T-shirts.”
“It’s a different trip every year,” said Napoleon American Legion baseball coach Chad Donsbach, who was making his sixth trip to Alaska. “Every trip it is a different group of kids and they all respond differently. The guys this year were very excited to go and they were anxious to see all the wildlife.
“The heat this year was definitely different,” added Donsbach. “The last trip I remember was really cold and the trip before that it rained like every day. For it to be 90 (degrees) was very strange. People there kept saying we brought the heat with us (from Ohio).”
The weather made it nice to check out the wildlife in Alaska, but the dormitory rooms the team stayed in did not have air conditioning.
“I like taking the guys on field trips (in Alaska),” said Donsbach. “Everything is so different there. Most of the guys had never seen a moose or bear before.”
The Napoleon American Legion team has been traveling to Alaska since 2002 and was making its 10th visit to play baseball in Anchorage, Wasilla and Kenai among other cities.
“Usually we go every three years so I can bring all new kids to Alaska,” said Bachman. “This year was the 25th anniversary of the BP Tournament and they asked us to come, since we have been to the tournament more than any team not from Alaska.”
The River Bandits won the BP Tournament for the third time this summer, tying them with Columbia, Tennessee, for the most all time. Napoleon also won tournaments in Kenai and Wasilla this summer.