June 17, 2012

On Baseball: Baseball binds father, son

By Kevin Thomas kthomas@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 1)

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Special bond: Portland Sea Dogs announcer Dean Rogers sits with his son Mark at Hadlock Field in Portland recently. Mark, who has cerebral palsy, operates the Hadlock Field message board.

Tim Greenway photo/Maine Sunday Telegram

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"Our lives were pretty much centered around Mark, which was fine with us," Dean said. "It's not like he was born without the affliction and then something happened. This was all we knew and we took care of him. I give a lot of credit to Sharon."

But Dean was there, too.

"He's a very good dad, very attentive," Sharon said, adding with a laugh, "sometimes too attentive. Sometimes, he'd comb Mark's hair. I'd say let him do it himself."

Mark learned soon enough that he was expected to make an effort, despite the difficulty.

"I've been pushed, but I push myself in a lot of ways," Mark said. "I try anything within reason."

That "within reason" disclaimer applied to baseball. Mark knew early on that he could not play the game. But he could adore it. He watched his father play -- Dean founded the Southern Maine Men's Baseball League for players 30 and older.

Together, father and son watched the Red Sox on TV.

Then the Sea Dogs came to town. Dean, with his smooth and friendly voice, was the overwhelming choice for the PA announcer's job. Mark came to the games and the Sea Dogs staff invited him into the press box.

"I had a blast," Mark said. "I just kept to myself. It was a big learning experience."

In 1999, Mark was offered a job, sitting next to his dad. He's been there since.

"He likes hanging out, being a part of it," Dean said. "It's not 'he's Mark, Dean's son.' He's one of the guys, which is great."

But it is also great that Mark, one of the guys, happens to work next to his dad.

"You betcha," Dean said.

Next week, the father and son will take a trip to Boston. Since the death of Fenway Park announcer Carl Beane last month, the Red Sox have invited guest announcers to man the Fenway microphone.

Dean will announce the Boston-Atlanta game next Sunday. And the Red Sox have invited Mark as well.

"They are both so excited," Sharon said.

As for Father's Day, there is no Sea Dogs home game.

"Well probably go out to have some fried clams," Dean said. "And then catch a game on TV."

And where will Dean and Mark be when they watch baseball today?

Next to each other, of course.

Now that's a special place.


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