The two tracks of the AAA team's future were moving along in tandem, but both involved building a new ballpark to replace 76 year old McCoy Stadium in Pawtucket. The offer on the table from Rhode Island officials apparently wasn't good enough because on Friday the announcement was made that in 2021 the team will be up at the other end of Route 146 - Worcester - in a brand new city-built stadium that even though it doesn't exist yet already has a name: Polar Park, for the local soft drink company.
Coverage from both sides of the story now follow. The formats look similar because both the Worcester Telegram and Gazette and the Providence Journal are owned by Gatehouse Media.
Has there been minor leagues baseball in Providence? It seems strange to have AAA baseball in a smaller city (Pawtucket) that is right next to Providence. Interesting coincidence: Pawtucket and Worcester are virtually equidistant to Boston.
From my early baseball card collecting, I remember Louisville being the Bosox AAA team in the late '60s and early '70s. Plus, Dick Williams managed two first-place teams with the Toronto Maple Leafs in '65 & '66 and several of those guys were on the '67 Bosox pennant winner with him.
CORRECTION: Just looked it up, Toronto was 3rd place both years in the International League, but they were still pretty good.
In the modern history of professional baseball, which coincides with the existence of McCoy Stadium, there was never a team in Providence. There were teams in the capital city prior to WWII, including a brief appearance in the early days of the National League (1878-85) by the Providence Grays (for three seasons during their existence, 1880-82, Worcester was also a member of the NL).
What made Rhode Island officials dither so long about coming up with a financial package to keep the PawSox in the state? Ironically it has to do with former Red Sox star Curt Schilling. Yes, collective memories are VERY long in New England.
The construction of Polar Park, the projected home of what for now are still called the Pawtucket Red Sox, was deemed non essential and has been halted for the duration of the COVID-19 crisis. Other construction projects in Worcester have also been put on hold but certain others that are deemed necessary, such as a new high school, are proceeding.
I grew up in Worcester, but still sad to see the Pawsox leave Rhode Island. They've been the Red Sox AAA affiliate since 1972, for nearly all of my baseball-loving life ('69 was the first year I really followed seriously). Not sure Worcester will support them any better...
With the Bay State slowly emerging from our COVID-19 slumber, construction has resumed at Polar Park. As for McCoy Stadium, they may not be able to have a final season for the PawSox before they make the trip up Route 146 for 2021 as Minor League Baseball is very much a gate driven sport, so many teams have begun releasing some of their prospects in anticipation of this year being lost as well as the planned contraction of the farm system by MLB. With outdoor dining now permitted in Rhode Island comes a unique experience for baseball aficionados.
It is now official: the 2020 Minor League Baseball season has been canceled, and with it the final chance for Rhode Islanders to say goodbye to their beloved PawSox before they move to Worcester next year.
Construction continues on Polar Park as they hope to have it completed by the scheduled start of the season in April. Whether that start will actually happen remains to be seen but officials are projecting a smiley face...no, really, Worcester is home to the man who first conceived of the smiley face...as they reveal details of the new ballpark.
Unrelated piece aside from it being in Worcester, but it's my thread so here you go: plenty of city landmarks are in the background of Liam Neeson's latest film "Honest Thief", which was filmed in and around the city 2 years ago and is due out in theaters (assuming that they've reopened where you are) this Friday: