The field was covered in snow and opening day was postponed for three days. The grounds crew worked around the clock to have the field ready for play, even securing the assistance of a helicopter to help dry the field.
Spring eventually arrived, and the Sea Dogs did not disappoint.
A dominant pitching staff and steady defense highlighted the season as pitchers combined to strike out 1,141 batters, the most in franchise history. Kevin Olsen (10-3) led the staff in wins, had a 2.68 ERA and was the team’s lone All-Star representative. He walked only 21 batters to go with 141 strikeouts in 1542/3 innings.
In mid-June, a right-hander named Josh Beckett was promoted from Single-A Brevard County. He struck out eight of the first nine batters he faced in his debut, then on Aug. 13 in Binghamton he threw the first seven innings of a combined no-hitter with Brandon Bowe and Aaron Scheffer. Beckett posted an 8-1 record in Portland with a 1.82 ERA. He struck out 102 batters in 741/3 innings. Beckett, Olsen and Blaine Neal received big league call-ups in September.
The offense struggled throughout most of the season, finishing with a .244 team batting average, the lowest in franchise history. Nonetheless, Kevin Hooper was fifth in the league in hitting with his .308 average.
In late August, in front of a sellout crowd that included former President George W. Bush, pinch-hitter Luke Wilcox hit a grand slam that landed in the giant inflatable mitt. By hitting the mitt, Wilcox split a $6,900 jackpot with the Youth Alternatives charity. It was only the second time that a Sea Dog had hit the mitt. Jaime Jones was the first to accomplish the feat in 1998.
The Sea Dogs finished with a 77-65 record, their best since 1997. However, Portland also became the first Eastern League team since the 1979 Reading Phillies to win 77 games and fail to make the playoffs.