From Minor League Baseball to Major Fun Part 3.5 (Or is it Part 5? Who knows.)

I guess there was a subconscious reason for the labeling of my last post. It may not have been the same date or the same order of ballparks visited, but I did happen to catch a Portland Sea Dogs game up at Hadlock Field on Friday night. Coincidentally, it was against the New Britain Rock Cats (just like the game I was supposed to go to two Saturdays ago, before it got rained out).

It was weird seeing a monstrous green wall a couple of hours north of Fenway, but I didn’t mind. The Sea Dogs do a great job of showing their relationship with their parent club. There were banners of famous alumni lining the gates outside, and they weren’t afraid to tout their Bostonian affiliation throughout the ballpark and even on the Sea Dog’s uniforms.

Although I bought a cheaper seat, it ended up having the best view I could have asked for. I was in the highest section, but right behind home plate (and conveniently right in front of the press box).

During the game, I got to sit in the booth with Rock Cats broadcaster Jeff Dooley, and pick his brain in between innings. Jeff is the longest-tenured broadcaster in the Eastern League, starting his stint before the Y2k scare. (Isn’t it funny to think the apocalypse would come because of a couple of missing digits?)

Jeff offered a multitude of tips for me, both in-game pointers and general career advice. He even told me about a famous relative he has. (I won’t disclose who that is, because I didn’t ask whether or not he wanted it shared.)

It turns out that the Worcester Tornadoes manager, Ed Riley, played for New Britain in the late 80’s and early 90’s, when it was the AA Red Sox affiliate. It’s funny to see how many little the baseball world is sometimes.

As for the actual game, it was a slugfest. The Rock Cats struck first with a pair of runs in the first half inning, and the Sea Dogs bounced back with a Jorge Padron grandslam in their half. Portland had a 7-2 lead in the middle innings, but it was an eight-run outburst (including seven runs in the last two innings) that clinched it for New Britain.

I’m glad I made it up to the northernmost state for a ballgame this season, instead of having to wait like I thought I would. I don’t think that’s the last of the Eastern League I’ll see this year though (and that doesn’t count the game I went to yesterday)…

*****

If you’d like to hear tall tales about minor league trips, find another blog. This one is real (and probably a lot less funny). However, there are other chapters of, “From Minor League Baseball to Major Fun” you might appreciate:

Part 1

Part 2

Part 4

Part 3 (You saw that right. It’s out of order.)

Part 6

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