C.J. Chatham of Portland completes a double-play after forcing out Manny Melendez of Hartford in the third inning. Portland Press Herald photo by Derek Davis

PORTLAND — Hadlock Field has hosted its share of memorable moments.

Fans of a certain age remember the minutes-long ovation through the bottom of the ninth as the Portland Sea Dogs succumbed to Harrisburg in the final game of the 1996 Eastern League championship series.

Joan Benoit Samuelson holds the bobblehead doll with her likeness that was given to the first 1,000 fans entering Hadlock Field as the Portland Sea Dogs hosted the Hartford Yard Goats on Wednesday night. Samuelson, who turns 62 on Thursday, also threw out the first pitch and then greeted fans and signed autographs. Portland Press Herald photo by Derek Davis

The annual Field of Dreams entrance and accompanying “People Will Come” soliloquy never fail to raise a lump in one’s throat.

A midweek ballgame in this damp and chilly spring between a Sea Dogs team stuck in the league basement and a middle-of-the-pack Yard Goats squad from Hartford didn’t figure to nudge the goosebumps meter much. And yet …

Early arriving fans were treated to a pregame video clip of the first Olympic women’s marathon in 1984. While it played and the music swelled, through a dark tunnel a young woman from Maine emerged into a roaring Los Angeles Coliseum.

Adjacent to the home dugout and tossing a ball into the well-worn glove on her left hand, Joan Benoit Samuelson watched her younger self run that final lap. Thirty-five years later, the fans at Hadlock stood in admiration as a smile spread across Samuelson’s face.

The Sea Dogs lost 2-1 to the Yard Goats on Wednesday night after Samuelson tossed out a ceremonial first pitch. Tanner Houck (3-3) recovered from early troubles to pitch into the seventh inning, but the Sea Dogs scratched out only one run, on a Bobby Dalbec single in the fourth, and left eight runners on base.

Shortstop C.J. Chatham went 2 for 4 to raise his team-leading batting average to .327. He was thrown out attempting to score the tying run on a medium fly to left to end the fourth.

For the Yard Goats, Vince Fernandez homered in the first, and Bret Boswell doubled and scored on a dribbler in the second.

Starting pitcher Tanner Houck watches as Joan Benoit Samuelson throws out the first pitch. Portland Press Herald photo by Derek Davis

The Sea Dogs (12-23) now embark on a nine-game, eight-day road trip to Reading and Trenton.

Samuelson, who turns 62 Thursday, signed autographs in the concourse, sat in for a bit on the radio broadcast and enjoyed the rest of the game with family and friends in a skybox.

Samuelson’s appearance kicked off the 18th season of bobblehead giveaways at Hadlock, where the first 1,000 fans through the gates Wednesday received a plastic statuette of the Cape Elizabeth native in midstride, a number 84 on her red singlet.

“My stride looks better than it really is,” Samuelson noted as she reflected on her bobblehead.

Samuelson marks only the fourth nonbaseball bobblehead given away at Hadlock since the fad was ushered in with a Josh Beckett bobblehead in 2002. The others were Tom Caron, the Lewiston native and NESN broadcaster, in 2018; Margaret Chase Smith, the former Senator, in 2017; and, as part of a Maine Public radio promotion, broadcaster Irwin Gratz in 2016.

“Anytime you’re honored in your own community,” Samuelson said, “it’s that much more of an honor.”

Samuelson said she’s feeling no ill effects from her 3:04 Boston Marathon last month and heads to Olympia, Washington, on Thursday for a three-day celebration of the 1984 U.S. Olympic Trials, which she won despite undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery only 17 days earlier. Samuelson plans to run a half marathon this weekend along with her daughter, Abby, and several of the competitors from the historic 1984 Trials.

NOTES: Samuelson won her gold medal in a time of 2:24:52. Wednesday’s game lasted 2:24. … Attendance was announced as 3,515. … Some of the 300 fans who lined up hours before game time departed immediately after collecting their bobbleheads. Sara Asch of Cumberland did so for her son Eli, a Waynflete grad who is now director of the California International Marathon. “She was a big influence on him,” Asch said of Samuelson. “As soon as he saw this he texted me: Mom, can you get this?” … Joey Morrill of Yarmouth is a season-ticket holder from Yarmouth who has sold bobbleheads on eBay. “Normally you can sell any one of them for 30 or 40 bucks, which is mind-blowing to me,” he said. “Some of these nonbaseball ones actually sell better.”

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