Friday, December 13, 2013
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Special for Dave Ruff, Springfield Union News Portland Newspapers PHOTO BY MERRY FARNUM -- April 18, 1994 -- Opening day at Hadlock Field in Portland, Maine where the Portland Sea Dogs play. On the left is the Portland Exposition Building; in back is Park Avenue. Most parking is on adjacent streets in the area. A shuttle buse runs from more distant lots in the city.
STAFF PHOTO BY JOHN EWING -- Thursday, July 17, 1997 -- Slugger, the Portland Sea Dogs mascot, congratulates Alan Meserve, of Ossipee, N.H., for winning a between inning race around the bases at a recent game at Hadlock Field.
All that was lacking from the first two seasons was an opportunity to express our affection.
In ’94, with the major leagues on strike, ESPN’s Jon Miller, Jim Kaat and Peter Gammons came to Hadlock to televise the regular-season finale (yes, Sea Dogs owner Dan Burke’s ties with ESPN’s parent company greased the skids for that one), but a drenching rainstorm washed it out. In the ’95 playoffs, the second-place New Haven Ravens eliminated the Sea Dogs in Connecticut.
In ’96, the Sea Dogs didn’t have the same star power, but they had a scrappy bunch led by third-year manager Carlos Tosca. They survived the midseason call-ups of second baseman Luis Castillo and hitting coach Jeff Pentland (opening the door for Portland native Ken Joyce’s professional odyssey from Sea Dogs volunteer bullpen catcher to the doorstep of a big-league job) and reached the league championship series.
When it became clear a Harrisburg Senators club featuring Vladimir Guerrero, Brad Fullmer and Jose Vidro would clinch the title in Game 4 at Hadlock, Sea Dogs fans finally had their chance to bid a proper adieu. An ovation started with the last out in the top of the ninth.
Rising, waning slightly, then gaining in strength and emotion, the outpouring of cheers and applause took on a life of its own. It would reach a crescendo, pause, then climb even higher as the Sea Dogs went quickly in the ninth.
“If they didn’t have a score on the scoreboard,” said Portland outfield Pookie Wilson, “you could have sworn we were winning.”
Nearly 17 years later, the purity of that night’s emotion remains fresh, as does the vision of Tosca concluding the postgame interview as shouts and cigar smoke and the smell of champagne drifted through the double doors separating the quiet home clubhouse from that of the boisterous visitors.
Here’s what these fingers tapped out that night:
Full confession: As he spoke, his eyes weren’t the only ones glistening.
Puppy Love. Nothing compares.
Glenn Jordan can be contacted at 791-6425 or at: