Clark Kent as Superman. Marshall Mathers as Eminem. Sea Dogs as Bean Suppahs.
Wait, what? Bean Suppahs?
Three alter egos, two of which you’ve probably heard of. The third is a new twist in a sports business exercise for Portland’s minor league baseball team.
The Sea Dogs, who open the season at home Friday, April 8, against New Hampshire, will transform into the Maine Bean Suppahs for a single game on Saturday, Aug. 13. They will trot out to the Hadlock Field diamond for a 6 p.m. first pitch wearing jerseys adorned with staples of the traditional New England bean supper: beans on the sleeves and an angry-looking Maine red snapper with a hat made out of brown bread on the cap.
(I must admit, I’ve never visited my local American Legion post or community center for a bean supper, but I’ve seen them advertised for years.)
Anyway, the Bean Suppahs will be the latest iteration of the Sea Dogs’ “alternate identities.” The Whoopie Pies played in 2019, Alces de Maine was announced for a 2020 season that didn’t happen because of the pandemic, and the Red Snappers joined the fold in 2021. All of the other alternate identities will return this season.
The Bean Suppahs and the other alternate identities were conceptualized as part of an initial list of 15-20 concepts in early 2018. More than a dozen Sea Dogs employees have contributed approximately 100 ideas to the evolving document, which is revisited in preseason planning sessions.
“For us, it’s really important to have something Maine-related, community-related, and fun-related,” Geoff Iacuessa, Sea Dogs president and general manager, said in a recent phone conversation. “As a staff, we just sit and brainstorm, and it really runs the gamut of ideas.”
The approval process is fairly simple.
After reaching a front-office consensus, the Sea Dogs, or any minor league team trying to do something similar, submit a concept to Major League Baseball. The idea is either approved or denied, mostly based on a trademark and copyright analysis. Proposals for the next season are sent before the start of the current one, so the one for 2023 – still under wraps – is already in the hands of Major League Baseball. Portland’s MLB affiliate, the Boston Red Sox, is not involved in the approval process.
After approval, Ted Seavey, Sea Dogs director of creative services, designs the logos and the team’s front office executes marketing, social media, and merchandising strategies.
Success on alternate identity days isn’t defined by a single metric.
“It’s the energy and excitement of fans,” Iacuessa said. “At the end of the day, a baseball fan will come to a game to watch baseball, but we try and get folks who might not be interested in baseball to come to a game, and that might be through promotions, Slugger, giveaways, things like that.”
Eventually, the Sea Dogs may have to rotate alternate identities as more and more enter the fold. But one thing will remain constant.
“We are still the Sea Dogs,” Iacuessa said.
Greg Levinsky is a Portland native and follower of local sports. He is an alumnus of Deering High School and Boston University whose work has appeared in The Boston Globe, Detroit Free Press, and several Maine newspapers. He can be reached at [email protected].