July 31, 2000
The consensus is in, and it's clear: This year's Goldpanners team wants to win, and they'll do everything in their power to put in a championship season.
For this reason, it's no wonder the team asked Jonah Martin to return for a second summer in Fairbanks. Martin has proven that he is willing to do whatever he has to to keep his team at the top of the standings. In his sophomore season with the Arizona State Sun Devils, opposing pitchers hit him 29 times, surpassing the old school record of 18 HBPs.
"When the ball comes I just don't move," Martin said, shrugging. "I do anything to get on base, score some runs, help my team."
That aggressive spirit, while an asset to the Goldpanners, could be more sacrificial here in the cooler temperatures of the North, however.
"It hurts more here," the outfielder admitted.
Martin said he expects this to be a good season for the Panners, noting that the returning players are more mature.
"We have a lot of guys of character," he said. "Gamers, I guess you'd say."
He gives wholeheartedly not only to his team, but also outside games and practice time. The setup of the Goldpanners organization requires ballplayers to help with the upkeep of Growden Park as well as provide instruction to kids in baseball clinics. Martin paused from hosing down the metal bleachers behind home plate to comment that this was what brought him back to the Alaska Baseball League.
"I like how we get to work and play ball," he said.
He wasn't here for last year's Midnight Sun Game, so the 2000 Game was a special first for Martin. Playing at night in natural light always takes new players by surprise.
"Last year I was kind of flipping out," he said. "It was hard trying to sleep."
Now that he has a northern summer under his belt, he said he has adjusted and can enjoy the experience.
Martin's baseball career began at the age of 6 in his native Hawaii. He and his two brothers all played ball, another Martin, Jonah's youngest brother, hopes to follow in his brother's shoes, attending the University of San Diego this fall where he will try out for a spot on the Toreros' roster with Greg Sain.
Meanwhile, Jonah will return to Arizona State to complete his senior year, majoring in interdisciplinary studies, and will continue to make a name for himself in the world of baseball. And he won't stop until he's made it as far as possible.
Copy Courtesy of Michelle Eastty
Alaska Goldpanners Baseball