Portland Sea Dogs History

The BallParkGuide.com Portland Sea Dogs History
by Malcolm MacMillan
  • Team has been in Portland since 1994
  • Partnership with Boston Red Sox began in 2003
Hadlock Field's suite level includes numerous jerseys featuring notable alumni.

Baseball fans in New England rejoiced in the fall of 1992 when Minor League Baseball announced that Portland would be granted an Eastern League team. The team would begin play in the 1994 season and despite Portland's close proximity to Boston, the Florida Marlins were announced as the Sea Dogs parent club.

On Opening Day in 1994, the Sea Dogs won their first game, which was on the road, before returning home and falling 7-6 to the Albany-Colonie Yankees in their home opener. That inaugural season would prove to be a struggle. Managed by future MLB skipper Carlos Tosca, the Sea Dogs went 60-81 but were able to quickly turn things around in subsequent years. The club finished first in its division the following two seasons, and again in 1997, when future Atlanta Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez served as manager after Tosca left for the International League.

Despite the three straight division titles, the Sea Dogs weren't able to win an Eastern League championship. They lost in the first round in 1995 and in the finals in 1996 and 1997. The following handful of years weren't favorable to the club. Between 1998 and 2002, Portland never finished better than third in the division and had just two winning records.

The team's on-field struggles took a back burner in the 2002-2003 offseason, when it was announced that the Boston Red Sox would take over as the Sea Dogs parent club. Suddenly, area baseball fans who were already cheering for the Red Sox would be able to watch a number of future MLBers develop in their own backyards. The new-look Sea Dogs team didn't change its name or logo, but eventually phased out the turquoise and white color scheme and replaced the colors with red and white so that the uniforms were a close cousin to those worn by the Sox.

After finishing out of the playoffs in 2003 and 2004, the Sea Dogs won the division in 2005 and lost in the Eastern League finals against Akron. A year later, when Portland and Akron squared off in the finals again, it was the Sea Dogs who got the last laugh, as they triumphed in five games. That year's team was bolstered by future MLB All-Star Jacoby Ellsbury, who hit .308 and stole 16 bases in 50 games.

The years since the championship win have been up and down. The team finished second in the division in 2007 and 2008, but out of the playoffs in 2009, 2010 and 2011. In 2011, the team had its worst record thus far, winning just 59 games while losing 83.

Many of the Sea Dogs alumni went on to win World Series titles with Boston in 2004 and/or 2007. Several Red Sox, including David Ortiz, Daisuke Matsuzaka and John Smoltz, have also spent time in Portland on rehab stints.

Notable alumni

Josh Beckett
Clay Buchholz
A.J. Burnett
Jacoby Ellsbury
Adrian Gonzalez
Livan Hernandez
Jon Lester
Jed Lowrie
Justin Masterson
Kevin Millar
Jonathan Papelbon
Dustin Pedroia
Hanley Ramirez
Kevin Youkilis