PORTLAND, Maine — Most years, the start of spring is a joyous occasion for baseball fans, but this year, with no baseball on the immediate horizon due to the coronavirus pandemic, it feels anything like normal.
"It is strange to think that it's late March, and typically this time of year we're full boat ahead in planning for opening day," said Geoff Iacuessa, the Portland Sea Dogs President & General Manager.
This time of year in Portland, the Sea Dogs are typically gearing up for opening day, which was originally slated to be in two weeks, before Minor League Baseball and Major League Baseball put spring training and the start of the regular season on hold. Now operations have moved out of Hadlock Stadium, and into employees homes as the team practices social distancing.
"An odd kind predicament to be moving to a new part of the country and then you know your first day of work say, we're probably going to be working from home… and also we don't have an opening day," said new Sea Dogs director of broadcasting Emma Tiedemann.
Tiedemann, who is one of five female play by play broadcasters in professional baseball, will have to wait some time to call her first game at Hadlock Field.
""I've seen videos of slugger, and the packed ballpark and the green monster in left field and I just think that the atmosphere that baseball brings is what I'm most excited for," said Tiedemann.
But despite there being no players on the field, employees at the stadium or fans in the seats, the Sea Dogs are still working to stay connected to the community.
"Our focus now is how we can best help our community remotely," said Iacuessa.
The Sea Dogs are now offering 'Sluggers Homework' a tri-weekly educational activity for kids and families. It features 10 questions in all core subjects, and all questions relate back to baseball.
"Just to support the teachers, and the kids and the families that are always around supporting us," said Iacuessa.
Iacuessa says the response so far has been great. Students learning from home are able to check the Sea Dogs social media pages to find quizzes every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.
Those learning from home who do complete the assignments are also entered into a running to win a Sea Dogs prize pack.
Iacuessa says it's been great staying connected with the community, but ultimately hopes to be able to connect in person at the ballpark again soon.
"There's a lot of uncertainty in the immediate future obviously, and we're all sitting back to wait and see what that's going to bring, but for us there's a ton of excitement for that day we can get here and get out playing," said Iacuessa.
MiLB and MLB have not announced when they expect the season to begin.