In early October of 1992, the Time and Temperature Building downtown would be illuminated to read "Play Ball", but who knew a Double-A minor league baseball team would be such a success in Portland, Maine. Days later, on October 4, 1992, it was announced that Portland, Maine, would join New Haven, CT, as the site of one of two new expansion teams.
When tickets went onsale on February 26, 1994, there were die hard baseball fans camped out in 12 degree weather to be the first to get their hands on tickets for the inaugural season, and opening day was sold out in only a few hours. Sure, Kathy Lee Gifford would sing the National Anthem, and Frank Gifford would throw out the ceremonial first pitch, but the Portland Sea Dogs would go on to win the inaugural game and continue with great success to this day.
Their Double-A affiliation with the Florida Marlins of the National League certainly did not discourage baseball fans from enjoying quality baseball games at Hadlock Field, as the Portland Sea Dogs would finish first in their division during their second, third, and fourth seasons as a franchise. Even better for the fans, they would have the honor and enjoyment of watching some great future Major League Players like Josh Beckett (Minor League Player of the Year in 2001), Livan Hernandez, A.J. Burnett, Edgar Renteria, Luis Castillo, Ryan Dempster, Charles Johnson, and Gary Sheffield, just to name a few. Attendance would continue to be solid in Portland with nearly 400,000 fans visiting Hadlock Field each season (averaging 6,000 per game).
In 2003, the Sea Dogs played their first game under their new affiliation with the Boston Red Sox, the hometown favorite in Portland and across most of New England. Attendance records would continue to be broken for the season with over 430,000 fans, or an average of more than 6,300 fans per game during the 2006 season. Whether it's a Bobblehead giveaway night or just a warm summer night in Portland, you can always count on a great crowd and a fun time at the ball game.
Who could blame fans for wanting to watch great baseball? Hadlock Field seats the fans close to the action with no bad seats and great sight lines. You're right there for all the action and the management involves the crowd very well in between innings and various promotional nights. Even better, there is the strong possibility for fans to see their Portland Sea Dogs starting one day for their beloved Boston Red Sox in the big show. Former Sea Dogs who have received the promotional call up to the Boston Red Sox include, Jonathan Papelbon, Jon Lester, Kevin Youkilis, Hanley Ramirez, David Ortiz (a short rehab stint), Dustin Pedroia, Jacoby Ellsbury, and Clay Buchholz.
I don't know about you, but it is certainly a pleasure to see these players develop and be home grown here in Portland and one day watch them succeed at the next level at the friendly confines of Fenway Park. Head out to Hadlock Field and Let's "Play Ball!"
Jeff Mateja is the CEO/REALTOR at Universal Properties at Keller Williams Realty in Portland, Maine, and founder of ILovePortlandMaine.com, a blog about everything Portland, Maine, and beyond. Jeff also offers two premier home search tools for Buyers via FindPortlandHomesNow.com and FindMaineHomesNow.com. If you would like further information on any blog topics, please e-mail Jeff Mateja.
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