My Alaska Trip - Shane Brown

July 16, 2009

PALMER, Alaska (UCFAthletics.com) - Summertime. The perfect opportunity for college students to take a much-needed break and maybe even get away from the Florida heat for awhile. It also could be a great chance for ballplayers to find a summer league and work on some mechanics.

It might be difficult to accomplish both. While collegiate wood-bat leagues stretch across the country, there are few that can provide a once-in-a-lifetime experience for the student-athlete.

Then there is the Alaska Baseball League, and that is exactly where UCF's Shane Brown has traveled after finishing his junior season in 2009 with a team-high .341 average, 73 hits, 20 doubles and a .431 on-base percentage.

Brown, a native of Winter Park and a 47th round draft pick by the New York Yankees in June, was pleased to share many of his experiences with UCFAthletics.com, along with other adventures that may still be in store for him before the summer wraps up.

By Shane Brown:
When I started thinking about getting assigned to a summer league, I went into coach Jeff Palumbo's office to talk about summer ball and he told me that I had the opportunity to go and play in Alaska, and if that would be something I would want to do. So right away I talked to my mom and I agreed that I would go up to Alaska for the summer and play in a town called Palmer for the Mat Su Miners.

I never really prepared for my trip until the day before I left. That day I packed and got everything together and then the next morning my mom took me to the airport at 6 a.m. and my flight left at 8 a.m. for Seattle. The flight took five hours to get to Seattle then I had a three-hour layover. Then it was a three-hour flight into Anchorage.

At the airport to pick me up was the G.M. Pete Christopher and he took me to his house in Palmer which was an hour drive, and that is where my host family picked me up. I'm living about 30 minutes from the field with a family of four and I'm staying with another teammate. The house is up in the mountains overlooking the river. It's a great view.

Once I got here the biggest changes were the time difference. It is a four-hour difference from here to Florida. Also I had to get used to it being daytime almost 24 hours up here. It's wild. I'll be up doing stuff and before you know it it's 4 a.m. and it feels like mid-afternoon. And I had to get use to the scenery - the huge mountains and all the wild animals. I've seen tons of moose and a few bears just walking around the roads and in back yards.

Shane Brown is mixing in some moose watching with baseball this summer (courtesy of Shane Brown).

The team is great. Everybody on the team is cool and we have become good friends quickly. We are playing really well and we are on top in the league. The field is really nice too, the whole field is natural surface and it has the best view out of all the ballparks. The field is surrounded by huge mountains and the tops of them are covered in snow. It's really neat.

And also we have great crowds at every game. Pete and Denise Christopher do a great job running everything behind the scenes of the team.

Some cool things that I have done up here have been hiking. I have hiked a few mountains, one was 900 feet called the Butte. Another one called Lazy Mountain which was higher then the Butte, and then a mountain up at Hatcher Pass which was high too and that had great views from the top. In a few days we are going to get to walk on the glacier which is going to be cool and we are going to go white water rafting as well.

About a week ago we took a trip up to Fairbanks to play some games. That was a six-hour bus ride and we stayed at the college dorms but up there we got to see Mt. McKinley and also eat at the northernmost Denny's, haha. Tomorrow we leave for a three-hour trip down to Kenai for a few games and we are going to stay at a bingo hall so that should be fun, and we are suppose to see whales and bears down there so that would be cool.

Also while I have been up here there was an earthquake. It shook everything pretty good. That was wild because I've never been in one before, and we are also waiting for a volcano to erupt any day up here so wish us luck!

I have had a lot of fun while I have been here. Baseball is very competitive and it's going well. I'm playing with a great team, I've met great people and I get to see Alaska.