Number of states: 42
To go: 8
Number of games: 1
First game: August 7, 2022 (Erie SeaWolves 6, Portland Sea Dogs 4)
Click on any photo to see a full-sized version.
Getting to my 42nd state in which I had seen a minor league game was certainly a special part of my 2022. But–I have to admit–it was rather dwarfed by what happened a few hours earlier along US highway 302, where it enters Fryeburg, Maine across the New Hampshire border…
I entered my 50th state. Seriously, I did. Here’s the proof! And here’s me holding up a number: that’s irrefutable!
I had been excited about that eventuality for pretty much every moment of my recallable life, and it happened. The original plan was for me to do this in 2020, which would have been preferable in some ways: I liked the poetry and symmetry of entering my 50th state during my 50th year. But I did get there as soon as possible, and I give myself credit for that.
I do have to say that the drive in from Vermont was one of the nicest drives of my entire life. I drove, and guy-who-stood-for-me-at-my-wedding Rob sat in the passenger seat giving a delightful play-by-play of the drive. He had spent from the ages of
The tour-guide nature of the trip was even more gorgeous than the Vermont and New Hampshire mountains, which is saying something. There was the ballpark where he threw a no-hitter. There was the road where so-and-so lived. There was the
Maine was nice, but man, it was hampered by 90-plus degree heat on this particular day, and alas, we had a Sunday matinee. So Hadlock Field, through no fault of its own, doesn’t score as high as it might for someone else. But we still had a delightful time on this day.
For starters, I did like the way the ballpark fit into Portland’s ubiquitous red brick. Rob probably knew why there was red brick
On the inside, I found it a little less beautiful. We had one huge bowl–many, many rows deep. The “monster seats” were in right field rather than in left. I could live with that, but if you’re going to do a Monster like in Greenville, it seems like you’d want it to be green, in left field, or both. In any event, I was excited to get over there to take some photos…and I was stopped.
Turns out that you have to have a ticket for that section to get in there, even way before game time. “Or,” he said, “you need a press pass.”
So the result is the Return of the Baseball Lifestyle Blogger. I told the guy at the business office about paulsballparks.com, and my quest, and his response was immediate and simple: “Cool! Let me see what I can do.”
This is what he did:
I called that my press pass. Looking at it, it might just be a free ticket to the upper deck in left field. Once there, I could see the appeal. The perch there is a great place to watch a game, plus you are right alongside the bullpen, where I watched the Sea Dogs’ Brett Kennedy warm up, and where I enjoyed some lovely views. So the following photos show you what my press pass got you.
The game itself was stuck in the heat and I have only a few memories of it, other than sweaty friends trying to endure it. One, regrettably, is the worst foul ball incident I have ever seen. It doesn’t feel like it was the Sea Dogs’ fault: the netting behind home plate was tall. It’s just that the grandstand was way taller. And one screaming foul back cleared the netting and wound
I had a nice little exchange with Erie catcher Jon Rosoff. He caught my eye because he looked a little short for a catcher–or even for a ballplayer. He’s listed as 5’8″; take that for whatever it’s worth. Anyhow, as I checked him in the program, I noticed that he was from Army. That’s kind of a cool background, I think–unusual for a pro ballplayer. So when he gunned down a would-be base-stealer (I think it was Christian Koss in the 7th), I went ahead and shouted: “Nice throw, West Point!”
And he acknowledged it. A little point up with his gloved hand in my direction.
I don’t know whether he thought I was a fellow cadet (had he looked at my toothpick arms, he’d have pretty quickly figured out I’m not), but it looks like he heard me and appreciated it. And given how much enjoyment I get out of watching these guys play, any chance I get at returning a little of that is a thing I like.
By the way, the hot dog I had was just terrible. Kept in a steamy bag, and “condiments” were merely plastic packs. It’s the official hot dog of “we’re not even trying.”
Rob, Matt and I parted ways before the end of the game: they were off to the airport in Boston, while I was going to stay the night in Portland and have one more lobster before my Portland to Portland full day of travel the following day. We eschewed any man hugs (not good while sweaty) and told each other we’d see each other for the 2023 trip, which will take us across the Midwest to the Negro League Baseball Museum. It’s going to be our eighth trip. I hope we’re just getting warmed up.
REGIONAL FEEL: 7/10. Gorgeous on the exterior with the red brick. Not enough New England touches on the interior for me: it’s in danger of “this could be anywhere.”
Not sure if this is because I was hot or what, but the on-field stuff didn’t do much for me.
TEAM MASCOT/NAME 1.5/5
Here are a couple of shots of Slugger. Slugger is pretty much a top-scoring-Family-Feud-answer of mascot names. If there’s a story of what a sea dog is and why it’s appropriate for Maine, I’d like to know it.
Again, lovely on the outside, less so on the inside. Plus a cool sculpture:
PAVILION AREA 2/5
You can’t walk around the whole ballpark. In fact, you can’t even walk around part of the ballpark unless you’re savvy enough to get a press pass.
Too much running against it tonight, with a hot day and a hurt kid.
BASEBALL STUFF I SAW HERE:
A Quincy Nieporte homer followed by a Dillon Dingler RBI double give the SeaWolves the lead they would never relinquish in the 7th.
Stephen Scott and Izzy Wilson homer for the Sea Dogs.
Jon Rosoff with a hit and a couple of runners gunned down for Erie.