FAIRBANKS WIFFLEBALL LEAGUE
The Fairbanks Wiffleball League began, albeit informally, in 2002 at Pegasus Park. For three years, "arcade-style" games took place with teams changing from game to game and rules changing as seen fit. In 2005, the FWL became officially organized with three teams: The Rt. 12ers (from the western, Rt. 12-side of Fairbanks Street), the Rt. 110ers (from the eastern, Rt. 110-side of Fairbanks Street), and the Road Runners (from elsewhere in the town). The 10ers and 12ers had been loosely established the year before as competatively-matched, "All-American" teams, so the 10ers sported (royal) blue and white jerseys while the 12ers wore red and white. (Both teams claimed black as an alternate color, though this was used only once by the 10ers and for the opening weeks of 2007 by the 12ers.) The Road Runners, so not to infringe upon the red-white-and-blue of the street, sported green jerseys and claimed "purple haze" as their alternate.
In 2005, the 10ers (led by Manager and starting pitcher Brian Siequist) overtook the 12ers in the one-game Wild Card Series to face the top-seeded Road Runners in the first-ever, one-game Fairbanks Classic. One of the best offensive weapons for the 10ers, "Mr. OBP" Pat Armenti, did not qualify for the playoffs due to insufficient games played. But unlikely hero Shaun Siequist slugged four home runs, which proved enough offense for junk-pitcher Daniel Ford to get the victory. Shaun was named the Fairbanks Classic Most Valuable Player as the 10ers won the inaugural Classic.
In 2006, the 10ers took a hit in their pitching rotation as Daniel Ford could only play half the season with a dislocated knee. Again, the 10ers and 12ers met in the Wild Card Series. The 12ers (led by Manager Brian Gore and the moto "Do it for Phil [Buckley]") set a still-standing record for runs in a game, mounting a 27-3 victory. In the one-game Fairbanks Classic, pitcher/slugger Phil Buckley smashed a walk-off home run to lead the 12ers to an upset victory over the (again) top-seeded Road Runners. Phil was named the Fairbanks Classic Most Valuable Player as the 12ers won their first Classic. After the Classic, Phil Buckley announced he was stepping away from the game: In his honor, the Top Pitcher Award was renamed the "Phil Buckley" Award and his jersey #3 was retired by the League.
In 2007, Pegaus Park was renamed the Sonoma Sports Complex. To begin the year, the Road Runners traded two of their top players to the 10ers (now-Manager Daniel Ford traded Shaun Siequist for both Rob Lombardi and Jeremy Phelps). The rivalry between the 10ers and 12ers, which had been brewing since 2000 when Fairbanks Football ran the street, culminated as the two teams truly ran away with the league in 2007 (the Road Runners finished 1-8). In the final game of the regular season, a game forever known as the "Monsoon Game" (played in nearly two inches of rain), tempers flared as Brian Siequist and Brian Buckley rumbled after the 12ers took the top-seed for the playoffs. In the (now three-game) Wild Card Series, Jeremy Phelps and Rob Lombardi took the reigns both on the mound and at the plate. (Jeremy Phelps set a record with 25 strikeouts in a 9-inning game.) In the 9th inning of Game 1 of the Classic, Pat Armenti hit a ground ball to left: The 12ers called him out, while he insisted he was safe. In a backyard re-do, Armenti popped a 3-run home run to right, leading the 10ers to a 5-4 victory. Ford and Lombardi held the 12ers in check and Phelps was named the Fairbanks Classic Most Valuable Player as the 10ers regained the Classic trophy.
In 2008, Phil Buckley returned to the mound and the FWL added a new team: The Entrepreneurs, sporting orange jerseys and headed by Shaun Siequist. Rookie/pitcher Henry Streenstra led the franchise to their first-ever victory with a walk-off single to center. Unfortuantely, the Entros finished in fourth and failed to qualify for the playoffs. As the 10ers struggled with clubhouse instability, the Road Runners advanced through the Wild Card Series to face the top-seeded 12ers in the Classic. As the camera was dying at the end of the Wild Card Series, a choked-up Daniel Ford wished the 12ers the best in the Classic and stunned the League by announcing his retirement. Before Game 1 of the Classic, the League retired his jersey #33 and, due to his extensive knowledge and interpretation of the FWL Rulebook, named him League Commissioner. Lighting the field with headlights as darkness set in, the 12ers assumed their place atop the league, winning their second Classic led by Fairbanks Classic Most Valuable Player James Lizotte. Phil Buckley again left the game, assuming an administrative role as FWLPA President.
In 2009, a few veteran players rebelled from the FWL and created their own team, the Journeymen (sporting navy and teal jerseys and headed by two-time champion Pat Armenti). Their on-field power and off-field controversies added fuel to the League. Unfortunately, the summer had other plans for the FWL, dumping over 30 inches of rain between June and August: The Sonoma Sports Complex flooded, and Ford tried to keep the League afloat by moving the playoffs to Goodale Park. In a "do-or-die" tiebreaker game for the playoffs, the 12ers outlasted the Entros for the fourth seed. The 10ers, sparked by Brian Siequist breaking out of his offensive slump and rookie Michael Dziczek's phenominal pitching, knocked the J-Men out of the playoffs. Unfortunately, the field at Goodale Park was taken down before the 12ers/Road Runners could finish their Wild Card Series, so the season ended without a Classic.
The 2009/2010 off-season was swarmed with controversy and questions: Will Sonoma be fit for play? Will players return, and if so, who? Is the League over? without a reigning champion? Commissioner Daniel Ford teamed with SSC General Manager James Lizotte and, through the storm, managed to rebuild four of the five teams, calling 2010 "One Last Final Last Season". At Opening Day, the League paid tribute to the Rt. 12ers, who chose to dissolve and dispearse throughout the League for the sake of competition. Daniel Ford, fresh off of shoulder surgery, returned to the mound, only this time for the Road Runners. The Entros struggled offensively and the Road Runners lost their best player, Jeremy Phelps, to a strained deltoid. In the "One Last Final Last" Classic, the power offense of the Journeymen squared off against the two-headed pitching monster, Matt and Mike Dziczek, of the 10ers. Sparked by incredible offense from the Fairbanks Classic Most Valuable Player Samuel Russell, the Journeymen claimed their long-sought Classic title.
At a Farewell Barbeque at the end of the season, David Lizotte, owner of the Sonoma Sports Complex, was honored with the "FWL Living Legend" Award for his unparalleled committment to the League. Commissioner Daniel Ford and SSC General Manager James Lizotte set the stage, raising redone Fairbanks Classic banners from 2005 through 2008, the two retired jersey numbers, and plaques of all-time FWL Award Winners. The unveiling of the new Fairbanks Classic banner marked the conclusion of the 2010 season. The "originals", those who played since 2005, were honored in a few speeches by 2010 Award Winners, paying special tribute to the 12ers for founding the League and to the Lizotte family as a whole for their selflessness over the past six years. The ceremony was capped with a heartfelt speech by Commissioner Ford, with the banners as the backdrop, brought a bitter-sweet close to the tenured League as the players and fans bid the FWL adieu.
FWL CLASSIC CHAMPIONS
2005: Rt. 110ers
2006: Rt. 12ers
2007: Rt. 110ers
2008: Rt. 12ers
2009: - No Classic Held -
Home Runs in a Game: 5
(S. Siequist 2005, D. Ford 2006, S. Russell 2008, Z. Taglieri 2009)
Longest Home Run: 165 feet
(Shaun Siequist 2009)
Runs in a Game: 27
(2006 Rt. 12ers)
Strikeouts in a Game:
Mike Dziczek: 21K/7IP, 26K/9IP, 29K total (all records, 2010)
All Outs Via Strikeout:
Matt Dziczek (2009, 18K), Mike Dziczek (2010, 21K)
Jeremy Phelps (2009), Matt Dziczek (2010)
Hitting Streak: 25 Games
(Jeremiah O'Toole 2008-2010, first 25 career games)
Winning Streak: 11 Wins
(Jeremy Phelps 2007-2009, first 11 decisions)
Career True-Triples: 3
(Nick Lizotte 2007, 2008 twice)