PORTLAND – Minor league baseball is back for the summer of 2021!

The Portland Sea Dogs began their season – the team’s 28th as an organization in Maine’s largest city (though only the 27th on the field, due to 2020’s cancellation in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic) – on May 4 and are off to a hot start.

As a way of celebrating the return of minor league baseball to the Pine Tree State after a season away, we thought it might be nice to find some ways to celebrate our beloved AA team – a Sea Dogs sampler, if you will.

We’ve got a couple of Q&As here – one with the team’s President and General Manager Geoff Iacuessa, another with Director of Broadcasting and play-by-play voice Emma Tiedemann. Both were generous with their time and insight, offering up their thoughts about the upcoming season and what it means to be a part of the Portland Sea Dogs organization.

I figured I’d also offer up a quick rundown of some of the best players to ever wear the Sea Dogs uniform – there are a LOT of great players, so paring down the list wasn’t particularly easy – in an effort to celebrate the storied past of the franchise. It’s been over a quarter-century, after all; that’s a hell of a run.

Before we get into the other stuff, let’s take a moment to look at some of what fans can expect when they make their way to Hadlock Field in the coming weeks.

First of all, there have been a number of improvements to the facility since the end of 2019. The big one is the lighting, with the team having upgraded all of the lighting fixtures and integrating some dynamic lighting that will enhance player introductions, celebrate home runs or add another fun element to the seventh inning stretch.

The team has also upgraded their Red Sox Update Board, allowing fans in attendance at Hadlock to also keep track of what’s happening with the parent club in real time. Game data such as pitcher-hitter matchups will be there, as will score, inning, outs, count and all the rest. As for in-game Sea Dogs data, there’s plenty of that too, with an updated display that will provide both pitch speed for pitchers and exit velocity for batters.

In terms of attendance, the Sea Dogs are currently operating at a 28% capacity, though that number will change as the circumstances surrounding COVID-19 continue to shift. That means that just over 2,000 fans – 2,087, to be precise – will be allowed to attend a given game. It also means that the team will be selling tickets month-by-month, with sales for a given month beginning the month prior in order to maximize the team’s flexibility with regard to numbers.

Social distancing and other protocols are being met through the creation of seating pods of two to eight seats, each with a distance of at least six feet from any other pod. Masks will be required at all times, save for actively eating and drinking. Said food and drink will be ordered via mobile app or from service staff and will be delivered directly to the fan’s seat.

(It should be noted that among those concession options will be the beloved Sea Dog Biscuit, a personal favorite of mine now produced by iconic Maine ice cream company Gifford’s.)

Portland has a reputation as one of the country’s best minor league cities and the Sea Dogs are considered one of the top-tier organizations in all of MiLB. And even in the face of these many obstacles, we can rest assured that the folks in charge will do everything that they can to ensure an exceptional baseball experience for all. So head on out to Hadlock – it’s going to be a heck of a time.

Play ball!

Published in Cover Story

It has been a quarter of a century since the current iteration of minor league baseball landed in Maine’s largest city.

The Portland Sea Dogs are celebrating their 25th anniversary this season. The team began life in 1994 as the AA affiliate for the expansion Florida Marlins. However, they were destined to remain part of the Marlins system through 2002 – less than a decade. That was when the team switched affiliation and joined the Red Sox farm system, where they remain to this day.

Nearly 300 players have worn the Sea Dogs uniform over the past 25 years, including a whole lot of future big leaguers. In honor of this auspicious anniversary, it seemed fitting to assemble an all-time lineup.

Here's a look at some of the best players ever to grace the grass at Hadlock Field.

(Note: This list is intended to include only those players whose stint in Portland preceded their major league successes. Players whose Sea Dogs tenure consisted solely of injury rehab will not be included.)

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