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Matt Edwards Checks In From Land Of The Midnight Sun

July 29, 2004

The Notre Dame baseball 2004 summer diaries are nearing their end, with rising senior corner infielder Matt Edwards logging the fifth of eight entries on the docket for this summer. Edwards was unable to play summer ball as a freshman (after suffering a broken leg in the ’02 season) and played in his home state of Virginia last summer – before embarking on a unique experience in the summer of ’04 as a member of the Mat-Su Miners in the Alaska League.

Edwards has played mostly third base with the Miners (also some at first) while batting .242 (the team is batting .265) in 21 games played. His other summer stats include 16 hits in 66 at-bats, 7 doubles, 10 runs, 8 RBI, 11 walks, 7 strikeouts and a .359 on-base pct. (plus a triple and one time hit-by-pitch). He has made 5 errors at third base (.918 fielding pct.) while playing error-free in 26 fielding chances at first base.

Mat-Su stands fourth in the Alaska League standings (21-15), despite owning the best staff ERA (2.69) in the league.

The following link contains all previous ND Baseball Diaries from the 2002-04 summers:

Be sure to check in next Monday for what likely will be the highlight of the Summer Baseball Diary series, as lefthander Tom Thornton will wax nostalgic about life in the Cape Cod League (near his hometown of Middleboro, Mass.). Tom is chomping at the bit and actually already sent in his diary entry but likely will file an updated version over the weekend … stay tuned!

Notre Dame Baseball 2004 Summer Diaries – Matt Edwards (Mat-Su Miners; Alaska League)

Hello Irish fans, this is Matt Edwards. My experience in Alaska this summer has been unbelievable, both on and off the field. The state of Alaska is a place like no other. It is awesome. The panoramic views of the snow-covered mountains are spectacular.

I have experienced environmental factors such as an earthquake, a wildfire and the summer solstice. A summer solstice occurs annually on June 21. The sun sets for less than one hour here in Alaska on that day. We start all our games at 7:00 p.m. and by the time we finish, it still looks like mid-afternoon.

Our longest trip of the year is up to Fairbanks, which is a seven-hour drive north of Anchorage. We were only able to play one game there because of a severe wildfire. The fire lasted for almost a week and the smoke throughout the city was so bad that visibility was less than 50 yards. There was a public health warning issued for the poisonous air. It’s safe to say we turned around and headed for home as quickly as possible.

The Alaska Baseball League is not like a normal summer league. The ABL is not sanctioned by the NCAA and this means each team can have players any age and they do not have to be in college. Fairbanks had a pitcher that was 30 years old. Also, the rules are standard major league rules, so it is not uncommon to see players taken out at second base on a double play.

The league consists of six teams: two in Fairbanks, two in Anchorage, one on the Kenai Peninsula and my team, the Mat-Su Miners. We are located in Palmer, Alaska, in the valley located about 40 miles outside of Anchorage.

Although my teammates come from all over the country, the majority are from West Coast schools. We have players from Cal Berkeley, Stanford, Arizona, San Diego State, College of Charleston, Tennessee and Miami.

I have the honor of playing with Stanford’s Matt Manship this summer. He is Jeff’s brother and their personalities are total opposites – but I hope they are similar on the mound as Matt is very good.

My roommate is Josh Satin and he is from Cal Berkeley. When I first met him, I was a little nervous about rooming with someone from such a liberal school. Thankfully, he’s not the typical left-wing California student and we’ve gotten along great.

Our team has been battling all year for one of the top two spots in the league to earn a trip to Wichita for the National Baseball Congress World Series. As of today, we are in fourth place but only a couple of games out of second. With a little luck during this last week of the season, we will catch up and pass the second-place team.

My host family, Joel and Pam Butcher, live only 2-3 minutes away from the ballpark. They have been the best host parents I could have hoped for. Their kids, Aaron, Jacob and Noah have been a blast to play with. It’s been a pleasure living with them this summer and I can’t thank them enough for their hospitality.

Finally, I want to tell you about the fun night life in Palmer, Alaska. Being that the town has a population of just over 5,000, the streets get rolled up early. We have to settle for social gatherings at my house, or have to drive all the way out to Anchorage. But since we only have one day a week off, our trips to Anchorage have been few and far between – but a good time I’ll never forget.

I would highly recommend a trip to Palmer, Alaska, for anyone but if you do come, you must drop by and say hello to Joel and his family or you’ll never get the ultimate Alaskan experience.

So long from Palmer. Hope to see everyone back at school in just a few weeks!

Matt Edwards