This year marked the last season for McCoy Stadium as the Paw Sox prepare to move north up Route 146 and become the Woo Sox. Unfortunately, because of the pandemic, no games were played in the stadium and it did not get the goodbye that was expected, or that it deserved.
The stadium was built in 1942, and the project to build it was spearheaded by its namesake, former Pawtucket mayor Thomas P. McCoy. The land it is built on is a swamp, formerly called Hammond’s pond. It wasn’t until four years after the completion of the stadium that the first tenant moved in, the Pawtucket Slaters, the Class B team for the Boston Braves. They were part of the final iteration of the New England League which lasted from 1946 to 1949. After the Slaters left in 1949, the stadium sat vacant until 1966 when the Pawtucket Indians played for two seasons, leaving in 1967. In 1970, the Red Sox moved their AA team the Pittsfield Red Sox to Pawtucket, and the Paw Sox were born. The team called McCoy home for fifty years, and the stadium hosted many memorial nights including what is still the longest professional baseball game ever played between the Paw Sox and the Rochester Red Wings which was 33 innings long. The game started on April 18, 1981 and was suspended at 4:07am with the score tied 2-2 in the 32nd inning. The game didn’t resume until June 23, 1981 when the Paw Sox finally won after just 18 additional minutes of play. Future all-stars Cal Ripken Jr. of the Red Wings and Wade Boggs of the Paw Sox played in that game.
McCoy was the oldest AAA ballpark still in use before it closed at 78 years old, 18 years older than the next diamond on the list. Driving up to the stadium is a unique experience because it is situated in the middle of a residential neighborhood. It is a throwback to a different time in baseball, and a fun experience for those attending. A familiar sight at the stadium are milk jugs that have been cut out to fit a baseball and pen in and tied with string to drop down into the dugouts where players grab the balls, sign them, and tug on the string so they get pulled back up with the souvenir inside. Fireworks shows were a regular occurrence after the games.
Because the stadium was not used for games this season, the Paw Sox opened up the outfield for “Dining on the Diamond,” giving fans the chance to eat dinner on the field. The event was a big success with a long waitlist and multiple dates added. In addition to becoming a restaurant, the stadium was also the training facility for Red Sox “taxi squad,” a group of players who could be called up in case of injury or COVID-19 case.
The future is uncertain for McCoy Stadium, but whatever happens, there will always be thousands of people with fond memories of summer nights spent watching baseball. It went out as it came in, unassuming and quiet, but special for those who knew about it.