April 17, 2013

1997: Millar, Marlins rise high

As Kevin Millar puts up a season to remember, many former Dogs help Florida win the World Series.

The Sea Dogs made the playoffs for the third consecutive year in only their fourth season of existence as Manager Fredi Gonzalez led the team (79-63) to its third straight Northern Division title. 

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STAFF PHOTO BY DAVID MACDONALD -- Sunday, April 13, 1997 -- New Britain Rock Cats' third baseman Corey Koskie tries in vain to reach a third inning foul ball, a souvenir for a lucky fan.

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STAFF PHOTO BY MERRY FARNUM -- Saturday, September 6, 1997 -- Sea Dog Alex Gonzalez gives teammates a high five after scoring the third run of the evening to tie the game 3-3 against the Norwich Navigators.

Additional Photos Below

Affiliation: Florida Marlins
Manager: Fredi Gonzalez
Attendance: 397,117 (5,755 average)

Final standings

Northern Division
Team Aff W L Pct. GB
PORTLAND FLA 79 63 .556
Norwich NYY 73 69 .514 6
New Britain MIN 70 72 .493 9
Binghamton NYM 66 76 .465 13
New Haven COL 64 78 .451 15
Southern Division
Team Aff W L Pct. GB
Harrisburg MON 86 56 .606
Bowie BAL 75 67 .528 11
Reading PHI 74 68 .521 12
Trenton BOS 71 70 .504 14.5
Akron CLE 51 90 .362 34.5

Notable hitters

Player HR RBI SB Avg.
Kevin Millar 32 131 2 .342
Ryan Jackson 26 98 2 .312
John Roskos 24 84 4 .308

Notable pitchers

Player W L SV ERA
Mike Duvall 4 6 18 1.84
Bryan Ward 6 3 0 3.91
Hector Mercado 11 3 0 3.96

Kevin Millar was named the Eastern League MVP and paced the offense with a stunning batting average of .342, with 32 home runs and 131 RBI – the second highest RBI total in the Eastern League’s 75-year history. He led the league in hits (175), total bases (309), on-base percentage (.423), extra base hits (68), and tied Chan E. Perry of the Akron Aeros with 34 doubles.

The Sea Dogs had five players who hit 20 or more homers for the season and hit 191 home runs as a team, the second most in Eastern League history.

Sea Dogs fans also got a rare opportunity to see one of the great Major League pitchers come to Portland. On May 28, Dwight Gooden made a rehabilitation start for Norwich.  He threw 94 pitches and his only two mistakes were giving up home runs to Millar and Ryan Jackson.  Norwich won, 10-5.

Again, the Harrisburg Senators stood in the way of the Sea Dogs and an Eastern League championship. The Senators, like the year before, beat the Sea Dogs, 3-1, in a best-of-five series.

However, the parent club Florida Marlins had much more success in the postseason. The Marlins won the World Series over the Cleveland Indians in seven games with some Sea Dogs alumni providing some of the punch. Charles Johnson handled the catching flawlessly. Livan Hernandez was named the World Series MVP and Edgar Renteria had the Series-winning hit in the 11th inning of Game 7.

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Additional Photos

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STAFF PHOTO BY DAVID MACDONALD -- Sunday, April 13, 1997 -- Mark Kotsay is congratulated by his team-mates after hitting a three run homer in the third inning, his third home run in two days.


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