I had the opportunity of a lifetime thanks to the Red Sox Double-A affiliate Portland Sea Dogs. I sat in two baseball press boxes covering my favorite Red Sox minor league team, the Portland Sea Dogs. I went up to Portland, ME the weekend of July 20 and 21st for my birthday. Weeks before the trip I emailed the media folks there and received press passes for both days. The following weekend, July 27th, I covered the Futures of Fenway game, where the Portland Sea Dogs took on the Harrisburg Senators at Fenway Park. A seat in Fenway’s press box was a fine way to conclude my Sea Dogs’ beat. I had arrived.
I spoke with many players on the team while in Portland from Michael Almanzar and Garin Cecchini to Matt Barnes and Christian Vasquez, but it was my impromptu, off the record, conversation with Michael McCarthy at Fenway that stayed with me over the course of the last couple of weeks. We were starry-eyed standing on that field of dreams: he a future pitcher, me a fledging journalist. We made a bit of small talk about the Green Monster, his start the night before, and the perfect weather after what felt like weeks of heat. He introduced himself first, “Hi, I’m Mike.” McCarthy wanted to check out the inside of the wall with the rest of his team, and stand on top of the wall to take some photos. After much encouragement from a photographer, and myself, he took to left field. “You’ve got to do it now.” I said moments before, “it’s 10:30.” Gates for the game opened at 11:00AM for the 12:00PM game. After welcoming him back to the dugout, I went up to the press box and watched the game. McCarthy went to right field to take in the game from the bullpen.
The Sea Dogs beat the Senators 5-2 at Fenway that day. Keith Couch pitched just over 7 innings, threw 95 pitchers, and 64 of them were strikes. Outstanding defensive play began in the first innings with centerfielder Shannon Wilkerson making a diving catch. It continued throughout the game, including a catch by the shortstop Heiker Meneses. It was the Sea Dogs’ offense that was the clincher. Travis Shaw hit a line drive double to right field scoring a teammate. Shaw also hit a home run during the game. Garin Cecchini and Shannon Wilkerson scored other teammates who were able to get on base. The Sea Dogs and the Senators put on a show worthy of the historic park in which it was played. Whether sitting in the stands, the bullpen, or the press box, it was impressive. I hope McCarthy enjoyed it as much as I did.
Today, upon checking soxprospect.com, I was sorry to see McCarthy had been reassigned to Salem, VA, the Red Sox High Single-A affiliate. Circumstances in life change so quickly with far too little notice. Our lives are a series of moments and very infrequently do we reflect back upon them. I believe McCarthy and I did not miss the many moments we each had at Fenway Park that day. It was an honor to share the day with you, Mike. I do hope our paths cross again…in the future.