The Bellamy Jazz Band struck up a familiar tune Thursday afternoon outside Hadlock Field as fans started streaming in to watch the Portland Sea Dogs play their home opener against the Hartford Yard Goats — whatever a Yard Goat is.
It wasn’t exactly a sellout crowd, but folks on hand seemed to be be having a good time despite temperatures in the 40s. Some of the Sea Dogs were wearing hoods and warming up their gloves on a heater as they left the dugout.
When starting pitcher Kevin McAvoy reared back to throw his first pitch, I felt a familiar lift in my spirit that comes every single spring when the Dogs come back to town. This team is kinda special to me. I went to a game the first week they opened in 1994. It was cold that night, too.
Now, I live close enough to the field to hear the National Anthem and Sweet Caroline every night. Those baseball sounds mean summer in my neighborhood.
I know it’s a bit of a cliche to talk about baseball and renewal and spring and all that. But maybe it’s a cliche because it’s true.
As the great baseball player, coach, scout and philosopher Buck O’Neil once said, “I can feel like I’m 15 when I’m talking baseball, watching baseball.”
I don’t think Buck was talking about minor league, between the inning shenanigans and Slugger the crazy Sea Dog. But I still know what he meant. It still rings true.
Did the Sea Dogs win their home opener this year? I really couldn’t tell you. I’m just happy to have them back in town. It may be April. It may be cold. But summer is on the way.