Napoleon returns to Alaska for a record 10th time
Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | Jun 27, 2019
Ohio’s Randy Bachman brought the Napoleon River Bandits to Alaska for the first time in 2002 out of curiosity.
But the beauty and baseball kept him coming back for more.
Bachman this summer has returned to the BP Invitational for the tenth time, giving Napoleon the most appearances by an Outside team in the tournaments 25-year history.
“When we were invited for the first time, we had no idea how to get this fundraised, but I wasn't about to turn down the opportunity,” Bachman told me. “All 18 players and coaches were on a mission to make sure we got it done.”
Since then, the River Bandits have made the 3,000-mile trek a tradition.
“We try to come up every two to three years, so we can give all the kids a chance to visit Alaska,” Bachman said.
Napoleon is one of the most decorated American Legion Baseball teams to come to Alaska as a two-time Legion World Series qualifier. In 2013, the River Bandits won the BP Invitational and went on to play in the World Series.
Bachman, 63, has spent most of his life on the field as a player, coach and umpire.
In 1974, he started the Van Wert (OH) Orioles to continue his playing career. By 1977 he was managing the team. He left in 1994 and in 2014 was inducted into the National Semi-Pro Baseball Hall of Fame.
In 1998, he created the Napoleon River Bandits and coached the team until 2006 when he became the Post 300 general manager.
All the while Bachman called balls and strikes as an umpire.
He has been an ump for 43 years, working elite college leagues like the Big Ten Conference and Alaska Baseball League. In 2007 he was inducted into the Ohio High School Officials Hall of Fame.
With Napoleon, Bachman has helped the River Bandits claim titles at all three stops of the Alaska Airlines Tournament Tour in Wasilla, Kenai and Anchorage.
The 10-day road trip, he said, allows the team to focus on baseball without distractions.
“No football practice, no girlfriends, and in some areas in Alaska, no cell phones or internet,” Bachman said. “It is a chance for all the kids to bond and develop some great team chemistry, while creating a great baseball experience and memories of a lifetime.”