My name is Forrest Mulheron and I will be using this blog to cover the Maine’s own Portland Sea Dogs, the Double-A affiliate of the Boston Red Sox. In my first post, I will discuss a little bit about the history of the Portland Sea Dogs.
The Sea Dogs began as the Double-A affiliate of the then Florida Marlins, and played there very first game on April 7, 1994 in Reading, Pennsylvania. Portland defeated the Reading Phillies by a final score of 2-1 on a 14th inning home run by Charles Johnson. Johnson would go on to play in the Major Leagues from 1994-2005, twice being named an All-Star, winning four consecutive Gold Glove awards and winning the 1997 World Series with the Florida Marlins.
Eleven days later the ‘Dogs would play their first home game on April 18, with television personality Kathie Lee Gifford singing the national anthem and former NFL star Frank Gifford throwing out the first pitch. Portland was defeated by the Albany-Colonie Yankees by a final score of 7-6.
In 2001 Sea Dogs’ fans got to witness and up-and-coming pitcher by the name of Josh Beckett, who would be voted Baseball America’s Minor League Player of the Year that September. Beckett would make his Major League debut that same year, and in 2003 would be named the Most Valuable Player of the World Series for the World Champion Florida Marlins at just 23 years old. The three-time All-Star would win another World Series championship with the Boston Red Sox in 2007 after being named the MVP of that year’s American League Championship Series.
Following the 2002 season, Portland ended their nine year affiliation with the Florida Marlins to become the Double-A affiliate of the Boston Red Sox. The Sea Dogs changed their colors from teal to blue and red to match the Red Sox, and shortly after construction began on a replica of Fenway’s Green Monster.
In 2005 Portland hosted their first Eastern League All-Star Game, with former President George W. Bush throwing out the ceremonial first-pitch. Seven members of the Sea Dogs were elected to the game and played a significant role in the Northern Division’s victory.
The Sea Dogs won their first and only Eastern League Championship in 2006, defeating the Akron Aeros in a five-game series.
After spending most of the 2007 season with the Sea Dogs, Clay Buchholz would toss a no-hitter for the Boston Red Sox in just his second Major League start in September of that year, the first Red Sox rookie to ever accomplish that feat.
Boston would go on to win their second World Series title in four years that season, helped by several Sea Dogs alumni – Josh Beckett, Manny Delcarmen, Jacoby Ellsbury, Dustin Pedroia, Jonathan Papelbon, Kevin Youkilis and Jon Lester.
Over the years Portland has hosted several members of the Boston Red Sox for various rehab assignments including David Ortiz, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Carl Crawford, John Lackey, MLB Hall-of-Famer John Smoltz and many more.
In 2014 the Sea Dogs were voted the Minor League Team of the Year by Baseball America after winning a franchise-best 88 games. That year’s teams featured several of the Red Sox top prospects including Mookie Betts, Blake Swihart, Henry Owens, Eduardo Rodriguez and Brian Johnson. After signing a seven-year, $72.5 million contract with the Red Sox, Cuban defector Rusney Castillo made a three game appearance with the Sea Dogs in their Eastern League Division Series against the Binghamton Mets, in which Portland was defeated three games to two.