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With sports jerseys and trading cards, fans relive memories of Connecticut Tigers games

Norwich — Thomas J. Dodd Memorial Stadium and the Connecticut Tigers hold a lot of memories for 10-year-old Macin Galligan and his family.

When Macin was just over a year old, he came to his first game at the stadium. As the players signed autographs, one of the players picked him up in his arms and carried him around the stadium.

As Macin got older, he got the opportunity to meet the players and watch games with them and participate in on-field events at the stadium. He still keeps in touch with some of the players and sends them letters.

“A lot of kids don’t have that opportunity ever,” said his father, Michael Galligan of Cranston, R.I. “Since we’ve been coming here, we’ve been telling everybody about it.”

On Saturday, the Galligan family — which plans to return to the stadium for Norwich Sea Unicorns games — purchased Connecticut Tigers merchandise at a sale at Dodd Stadium to relive those memories. Connecticut Tigers seating signs and banners, player guides and rulebooks, scarves, hats, pint glasses, baseball bats and bobble heads were among the items for sale. There was also a smaller number of Norwich Navigators and Connecticut Defenders items available for sale.

When the stadium opened the gates for the sale on Saturday morning, about 30 people were already lined up, and by noon, about 75 people had come to peruse the memorabilia that was being sold off due to the team’s rebranding as the Norwich Sea Unicorns, said Heather Bartlett, concessions and merchandise manager with the Norwich Sea Unicorns. The Connecticut Tigers, which came to Norwich in 2010, became the Norwich Sea Unicorns in December 2019.

The team was dropped from minor league baseball this year but it was announced last month that the Norwich Sea Unicorns will become part of the Futures Collegiate Baseball League, a summer wooden bat league. The first game will be May 26 in New Britain, and the first home game will be 7 p.m. May 31 at Dodd Stadium.

Matthew Miner of Mystic, who has been coming to Dodd Stadium since he was a kid, said nostalgia drew him to the sale. “I’ve been coming here since the Navigators started, so I’ve been coming here from the beginning,” he said.

His grandfather, who has died, brought him to his first game and always got the best seats behind the home plate or behind the dugout and got players’ autographs. On Saturday, Miner was picking up Connecticut Tigers trading cards, which he said brought back memories.

“It’s sad that there’s not going to be professional baseball anymore in southeastern Connecticut,” he said. “We were able to see a lot of future major leaguers here, which was nice, in our corner of the state.”

David Brown of Southbridge, Mass., was purchasing a sign that said Section 3 — where he sat with his family — as well as Tigers buttons, a Tigers trading card holder book, and a minor league baseball book.

“It’s just a good reminder of being here because we had fun here,” said Brown, who has been coming to Dodd Stadium for at least 20 years with his family.

Zachariah Hand of Windsor Locks, Richard Ashley of Coventry and Megan Foley of Manchester stopped by the sale on Saturday to purchase baseball merchandise from the Norwich Navigators and Connecticut Tigers. Hand said they are baseball fans, and Ashley added that Dodd Stadium is close to their hearts. When Hand and Ashley were growing up in Coventry, the Norwich Navigators and then the Defenders were playing at Dodd Stadium and they followed the draft and went to games when the team transitioned to the Connecticut Tigers.

They also purchased some Norwich Sea Unicorns merchandise from the stadium store and plan to come back this summer to go to some Sea Unicorns games.

James Moody of Norwich was looking at the Connecticut Tigers merchandise on Saturday with his daughter and son and grandchildren: “It brings back the memories from coming up here all those years,” he said. He plans to go to a Norwich Sea Unicorns game soon with his family and bring his 21-month-old granddaughter to her first baseball game.

“I’m just happy baseball is back in Norwich,” Moody said.

Some items also were sold at www.goseaunicorns.com. Items that were not sold Saturday will be available for purchase at the stadium’s store, and some will be available online.

k.drelich@theday.com

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