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Sea Dogs Remember the Greats During Black History Month

February 1, 2024

In celebration of Black History Month, throughout February, teams across Minor League Baseball are taking a look back at five of the best Black players to suit up for their club. Black History in the Minors While some of these standout performers went on to long and illustrious Major League

In celebration of Black History Month, throughout February, teams across Minor League Baseball are taking a look back at five of the best Black players to suit up for their club.

Black History in the Minors

While some of these standout performers went on to long and illustrious Major League careers, others simply had great Minor League careers or, in some cases, just one incredible season that went down as “a year for the ages.”

Here is a look at five of the best Black baseball players ever to suit up for Portland Sea Dogs.

Charles Johnson

Charles Johnson was a member of the Sea Dogs' inaugural team in 1994 and was the franchise’s first star. He opened the season as the Florida Marlins' top prospect, and he did not waste any time in making an impact in Portland. In the Sea Dogs' inaugural game, Johnson belted two home runs including the game-winner in the 14th inning as the Sea Dogs defeated the Reading Phillies 2-1. The catcher hit .264 with an Eastern League-leading 28 home runs and 80 RBI for the Sea Dogs in 1994 and was named to the Eastern League All-Star squad. His 28 home runs led the league and were the most by an Eastern League catcher since Tony Pena hit 34 in 1979.

Johnson has the distinction of being the Marlins first minor league player to reach the majors. He homered off Curt Schilling in his second Major League at-bat. Johnson had a 12-year Major League career with the Marlins, Dodgers, Orioles, Rockies, and Devil Rays. He was a two-time National League All-Star (1997 & 2001) and captured five Gold Glove awards. He was inducted into the Sea Dogs' Hall of Fame in 2005.

Edgar Renteria

Edgar Renteria had a breakout season with the Sea Dogs in 1995 hitting .289 with 68 RBI and 30 stolen bases leading the Sea Dogs to their first-ever postseason appearance and earning the Marlins Organizational Player of the Year honors. The following season, he was the Marlins everyday shortstop, where he hit .309 and finished second in National League Rookie of the Year voting to Todd Hollandsworth.

In his 16-year Major League career, he had a knack for producing big hits in big games. In the 1997 World Series, Renteria delivered an RBI single in the bottom of the 11th inning in Game 7 to give the Marlins their first-ever World Championship. In 2010, with the Giants leading the World Series three games to one, Renteria blasted a three-run homer in the seventh inning in a scoreless Game 5 that won the series for the Giants. Renteria hit .412 with two home runs and 6 RBI in the series and was named the World Series MVP. Renteria is one of just four players to have two World Series-winning hits, joining Yogi Berra, Joe DiMaggio, and Lou Gehrig.

In his career he spent time with the Marlins, Cardinals, Red Sox, Braves, Tigers, Giants, and Reds appearing in 2,152 games with a .286 average, 140 home runs, 923 RBI, and 1200 runs scored. He is a five-time MLB All-Star, three-time Silver Slugger award recipient, and a two-time Gold Glove award winner. Renteria was inducted into the Sea Dogs Hall of Fame in 2006. More on Renteria

Billy McMillon

Billy McMillon is the only player in Sea Dogs history to have also managed the team. McMillon was an outfielder with the team in 1995 and would manage the team in 2014 and 2015. He has been a part of the two winningest seasons in Sea Dogs history.

The Florida Marlins drafted McMillon in the eighth round of the June 1993 draft. The outfielder spent the 1995 season with the Portland Sea Dogs where he appeared in 141 of the Sea Dogs 142 games that season. He hit .313 with 29 doubles, 14 home runs, 93 RBI, 15 stolen bases, and walked a franchise record 96 times, earning a selection to the Eastern League Year-End All-Star squad. His .423 career on-base percentage with the Sea Dogs ranks second in franchise history behind Kevin Youkilis' .487 mark. He collected 162 hits in 1995, which ranks second in franchise history for most hits in a single season, behind Kevin Millar's record of 175 in 1997. The Sea Dogs produced an 85-56 (.606) record in 1995, the second-best record in franchise history.

In 2014, McMillon was named the Sea Dogs manager, where he led the Sea Dogs to a franchise-high 88-73 (.620) record in the Eastern League's Northern Division and their first playoff appearance since 2008. McMillon was named the 2014 Eastern League Manager of the Year for his efforts. Becoming just the second manager in franchise history to earn the honor.

McMillon spent parts of six seasons in the Major Leagues with the Florida Marlins (1996-1997), Philadelphia Phillies (1997), Detroit Tigers (2000-2001), and Oakland Athletics (2001-2004) hitting .248 in 269 career games.

Jackie Bradley Jr.

After hitting .359 with Single-A Salem, Jackie Bradley Jr. was promoted after the All-Star break to Portland in June of 2012. In 61 games with the Sea Dogs, he hit .271 with 16 doubles, six home runs, 29 RBI, 37 runs scored, and eight stolen bases. His combined .315 average, 42 doubles, four triples, nine home runs, and 63 RBI earned him Red Sox Minor League Player of the Year honors from the Boston Baseball Writers, and he was the Red Sox Minor League Defensive Player of the Year.

In 2016, JBJ was the starting left fielder for the American League in the mid-summer classic. He completed the 2016 season with a .267 average and a career-high 26 home runs.

The defensive star earned his first Gold Glove award in 2018, where his contributions led the Red Sox to a franchise-record 108-win season and a World Series Championship. Bradley was named the ALCS MVP driving in nine runs in the five-game series. Each of Bradley's hits in the ALCS went for extra bases, came with 2 outs, and drove in multiple runs...He became the first player in MLB history to have 3 straight multi-RBI games in the postseason from the No. 8 or 9 spots in the order.

Mookie Betts

As the Sea Dogs lead-off batter on Opening Day in 2014, Mookie Betts set the tone for the season by smashing a home run in his first Double-A at-bat. Betts went 4-for-4 in the game in which Sea Dogs won 5-0 in a rain-shortened game at Reading. The second baseman reached base safely in his first 36 games with the Sea Dogs from April 4 through May 16, 2014. Betts, drafted in the fifth round of the 2011 draft, hit .355 with six home runs, 18 doubles, and 34 RBI in 54 games for the Sea Dogs. On May 21st, Betts made his first career appearance in the outfield and was promoted to Triple-A Pawtucket on June 3rd. At the time of his promotion, Betts led the Eastern League in hitting (.355). After just 23 games in Pawtucket, Betts was called-up to the Red Sox, where he made his Major League debut on June 29th.

After back-to-back All-Star seasons in 2016 and 2017, Betts exploded in 2018, when he was named the American League MVP. Betts joins Dustin Pedroia as the only Sea Dogs players to earn MVP honors in the big leagues. Betts finished the 2018 season leading the major leagues with a .346 batting average, a .640 slugging percentage, and 129 runs scored to go along with 32 home runs and 80 RBI in 136 games. Additionally, he had the highest fielding percentage among major league right fielders, at .996. His superb play led the Boston Red Sox to a franchise-record 108 wins and a World Series Championship. He is the only player in American League history to win the World Series, a Gold Glove award, a Silver Slugger award, and the AL MVP in the same season.

In eight big league seasons, Betts has compiled a .296 batting average and is a five-time MLB All-Star, five-time Gold Glove award winner, four-time Silver Slugger recipient, and two-time World Series Champion.