On the Portland Sea Dogs
For my birthday, my way-cool sister Susan took me–and my son Ben, and her daughter Kate–to watch a Sea Dogs game at Hadlock Field in Portland. The Sea Dogs, having begun their existence 18 years ago as a minor league affiliate of the Florida Marlins, are now in their tenth season as the AA farm league team of the Boston Red Sox. Quite frankly, we like it better this way…it was difficult when our allegiance had to be divided.
The seats Susie had were perhaps the best I’ve ever sat in at Hadlock Field.
They were in section 104, five rows up from the field, just on the first base side of home plate: the view was dead on down the third-base line to the replica of Fenway Park’s Green Monster. The Sunday was a gorgeous day: the first truly warm day of April, and the grass was brilliant green, the dirt along the baselines a deep rich brown, the sky as blue as any summer day ever has been. A perfect day for baseball. We were so close to the field we could hear the batters in the on-deck circle talking.
The heathens and I have gone to see the Sea Dogs on a number of occasions, from the time they were very small. Usually we would buy general admissions tickets, which would give us bleacher space just about anywhere in the park–but we’d get there early and stake out seats up behind the backstop, so we could see all the action and get the world’s most fierce sunburn. Because it’s minor league, and therefore in a constant state of flux, we never really knew who the players were–but they’ve been ours now for as long as the heathens can remember, and that’s enough. Still, it was amusing, after Kevin Youkilis was called up to the Red Sox, that Rosalie (who would have been six that summer), said I remember him when he was a Sea Dog. So we have learned some things.
Sunday they played the Binghampton Mets, and it was not a good story. For most of the Mets held the Sea Dogs scoreless while slashing singles and slamming homers. The Sea Dogs defense wasn’t in the brightest of form, either, committing three errors (at one point I told Susie I felt like I was at last week’s Nokomis JV pre-season game against class A Lawrence–but that’s another story for another time). As the score mounted inexorably, we would have become depressed save for the beauty of the afternoon. Watching fans grab foul balls up in the stands behind us–we were too close to the screen to have any come to us–provided some amusement: most of the best catches were one-handed, bare-handed jobs up near the private boxes, providing a wealth of irony. Finally, in the bottom of the 9th, the Dogs managed to scrape out two runs, causing those of us who stayed until the bitter end to cheer mightily: a run! a run! And then another run! The game ended with a score of 9-2, to the sound of Elton John singing “I Guess That’s Why They Call It the Blues” on the public address system.
Many many years ago my father used to play at Hadlock Field, when he played for Portland High School, South Portland High School, Cheverus High School (don’t even bother to ask), the Portland Boys’ Club, and just about anyone else who would have him. Spike, they called him.