After 48 years of baseball at McCoy Stadium in Pawtucket, the Boston Red Sox announced that they would be moving their Triple-A affiliate Pawtucket Red Sox to Worcester, Massachusetts in the spring of 2021.
Since the move, there have been many questions regarding the future of professional baseball in the state of Rhode Island as well as the future of McCoy Stadium.
Generations have enjoyed making the trip up the hill in Pawtucket, and fans of all ages shared a collective sadness when hearing the news.
“I was really disappointed. I have been following the story over the past year or so and it’s disappointing for a lot of reasons. One is going as a family, but they also did so much for local organizations. Kids getting to go on the field and meet the players, stuff like that. I was disappointed that we weren’t able to make it work,” said Cranston Budlong softball coach Dan Cote. “I have a friend in the marketing department there and a few months ago we were just talking about how great it was going to watch the games and how it was a great bonding experience. I’m sure Ben Mondor is rolling over in his grave right now seeing this team slip out of their fingers.”
“It was sad to hear that they are moving up to Worcester. Growing up in Rhode Island, the PawSox were a staple. Going to see those guys during the summer nights, it was fun and it’s going to be sad to see them go,” added Toll Gate baseball coach Nick Durand. “They were a staple in the baseball community. You would have team days where you go down there on a Saturday afternoon to catch a game, you’d stay late to watch the fireworks, they would always do a lot of team and family stuff.”
McCoy Stadium hosts various baseball tournaments throughout the season as well, including the Rhode Island high school state championships. Bishop Hendricken coach Ed Holloway was also sad to hear the news, and felt sorry for the high schoolers that may not have the same opportunities to play at McCoy in the future.
“I think I felt what most people did, disappointment. I think that it’s a great place to watch a Triple-A game, it’s a great place to host the high school state championship. For those high school teams to have a chance to go there, it was a thrill for the kids. The high school kids in Rhode Island really enjoyed going there,” said Holloway. “(The team) is very important to the community, especially Pawtucket. That team is very important to that city. The Red Sox had to do what was best for them though, and Larry Lucchino thought that it was best to move to Worcester.”
“A lot of the Warwick teams have been to McCoy to play. For the state to possibly lose that would be a wicked bummer, the kids enjoy the big stage,” added Durand.
An issue that stood in Pawtucket’s way of being able to retain the franchise was the venue. Many felt that McCoy Stadium’s infrastructure was outdated, and was also in a poor location that lacked sufficient parking for fans.
Holloway feels that there are still plenty of positives regarding the stadium, including the field itself.
“There are arguments on both sides … I’m really not sure what the answer is. I just feel disappointed, in terms of the need for a new stadium, I’ve always felt like McCoy Stadium was great. The playing surface was great when we played there, it is a really great park,” said Holloway.
Although local baseball fans will be sad to wave goodbye to the PawSox, there is still optimism for some that a new team will pick up where they left off. Whether it be a lower level Major League affiliate or an independent league, Rhode Islanders hope to see McCoy Stadium continue to host America’s pastime every summer.
“It’s difficult to see the PawSox move to Worcester. The PawSox have been a staple in Rhode Island my entire life it will be strange not to have a professional baseball team in Rhode Island. But I truly feel it will not be long before another Single-A, Double-A, or Triple-A team finds its way into Rhode Island to fill the shoes of the PawSox,” said Pilgrim coach Nolan Landy.
“I think Rhode Island would welcome any sort of professional baseball league. For decades people have been going to McCoy and enjoying their time,” added Durand. “Obviously I love baseball, so going up there to watch a professional game is all that really matters.”
However, some others admit that replacing what was built in Pawtucket may be difficult.
“I think if they brought in a Single-A team or something independent they would have a really difficult time attracting fans to it,” said Cote. “I also know that Worcester isn’t the other end of the world but I think that it will really limit the amount of people from Rhode Island that use it as an affordable night out.”