- Associated Press - Saturday, May 6, 2017

FAIRBANKS, Alaska (AP) - Every year, about 7,500 NCAA Division III college baseball games are played and Jim Dixon knows more - arguably - about these games than any other person.

Dixon is part of the seismology staff at the U.S. Geological Survey’s Alaska Volcano Center on the University of Alaska Fairbanks campus. After spending eight hours monitoring seismic activity across the state, he spends upward of four hours managing the website D3baseball.com during baseball season.

“If you sit in front of a computer screen like I do and then go home and spend three or four hours on my baseball site - I don’t want to look at a screen. So I may be the last person on earth to get a cell phone,” Dixon said.

Dixon writes articles, tracks milestones, publishes rankings and more. With 14,000 Twitter followers, Dixon said he’s a minor celebrity in Division III baseball circles.

“There’s something wrong if you’re a sports information person in Division III baseball and you don’t know who I am,” Dixon said, half joking.

Dixon, 54, grew up in the Concord, California. Dixon said he has always loved baseball. As a youth, Dixon said he attended Oakland Athletics and San Francisco Giants games. He never played more than a couple seasons of organized baseball as a child but has played a good number of seasons as an adult. He said he has grown to appreciate the game more as the years have gone by.

“I like the pace. I like the team concept that it will overcome any individual,” Dixon said. “I don’t have a baseball body, but it’s certainly consumed my life.”

Scott Stihler, longtime friend and co-worker at the Alaska Volcano Center, is a bit baffled but respects Dixon’s obsession.

“I swear he knows more about low-level college baseball than any mere mortal should. It’s pretty cool. Everyone has got to have a hobby. People are interested in it. I’m not,” Stihler said, laughing. “I’m a Detroit Tigers fan.”

Dixon came to Fairbanks in the 1980s for graduate school to study seismology because it was a low-cost option, and he has spent the majority of his career at the Alaska Volcano Center.

“Every day, we have someone looking at earthquakes. We need to spot the eruptions before they happen,” Dixon said. He said the Alaska Volcano Center has saved lives and millions of dollars through early warnings. He also has had the chance to visit some volcanoes including the Wesdall Volcano, which he said had a “nice sequence of lava flow” in 1992.

Although he spent most his career in Alaska, Dixon said he didn’t appreciate Fairbanks until he returned with his wife Barbara in 2001 after a 10-year hiatus.

“I like how close everything is and that I don’t have to deal with traffic,” Dixon said. “I’ve learned to enjoy it more after 10 years being away. Nothing had really changed. My softball team was still here. My bowling team was still here.”

Dixon said he enjoys watching movies or sharing a beer with friends when he isn’t consumed with baseball. He said he prefers classic movies - such as his favorites, “Grease” ”Casablanca” and “Groundhog Day” - to natural disaster movies.

“I’m not sure there’s ever been a good volcano movie. Hollywood gets it all wrong,” Dixon said.

___

Information from: Fairbanks (Alaska) Daily News-Miner, https://www.newsminer.com

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC.

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