McCoy Stadium

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McCoy Stadium
McCoy Stadium (logo).png
McCoy Stadium Pan.jpg
Location One Columbus Avenue
Pawtucket, Rhode Island 02860
Coordinates 41°52′23.39″N 71°22′12.14″W / 41.8731639°N 71.3700389°W / 41.8731639; -71.3700389Coordinates: 41°52′23.39″N 71°22′12.14″W / 41.8731639°N 71.3700389°W / 41.8731639; -71.3700389
Owner State of Rhode Island
Operator Pawtucket Red Sox Baseball Club Inc.
Capacity 10,031 permanent seats. Up to 11,800 including grass berm, bleachers and standing room sections.
Record attendance 11,982[1]
Field size Left Field - 325 ft
Center Field - 400 ft
Right Field - 325 ft
Alleys - 375 ft
Outfield fence - 8 ft except 5 ft at bullpens
Surface Natural Grass
Construction
Broke ground November 3, 1940
Opened July 4, 1942
Renovated 1992, 1999
Expanded 1999
Construction cost $1,500,000[2]
($21.7 million in 2014 dollars[3])
$14,914,000 (renovation)
($21.1 million in 2014 dollars[3])
Architect Mark Linenthal
Thomas F. Harding[4]

Heery International (renovation)
Tenants
Pawtucket Slaters (1946–1949) (NEL)
Pawtucket Indians (1966-1967) (EL)
Pawtucket Red Sox (1970–1972) (EL)
Pawtucket Red Sox (1973–present) (IL)

McCoy Stadium is a Minor League baseball stadium in Pawtucket, Rhode Island. It is currently home to the Pawtucket Red Sox of the International League.

History[edit]

The project to build the stadium began in 1938 and was championed by then-Pawtucket Mayor Thomas P. McCoy. It was to be built on a swampy piece of land known as Hammond's Pond and, to this day, the stadium sits at the end of Pond Street. On the afternoon of November 3, 1940, Mayor McCoy laid the foundation cornerstone.

The stadium was completed in 1942, and in 1946 was officially dedicated and named in honor of Mayor McCoy. McCoy Stadium first began hosting affiliated Minor League Baseball in 1946. The Pawtucket Slaters, a Class B affiliate of the Boston Braves, was the first team to call McCoy Stadium home. The Pawtucket Slaters would play for 4 seasons in the New England League, as Braves affiliates.

Professional baseball disappeared from Pawtucket for 16 years. It finally returned in 1966 as a member of the Eastern League. McCoy Stadium still hadn't found its true team yet and hosted the Double-A affiliate of the Cleveland Indians, the Pawtucket Indians. After 2 years, the Indians moved to Waterbury, Connecticut. McCoy was again without a team.

In 1969 the Boston Red Sox came to scout McCoy Stadium. By April 1970, the Sox had pulled their minor league affiliate out of their home in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. They moved into McCoy Stadium, where they remain today, and became known as the Pawtucket Red Sox. The franchise would spend three years playing for the Double-A Eastern League before being promoted to the Triple-A International League.

In 1976, debt-ridden owner Phil Anez threatened to move the team to New Jersey, but sold the franchise to Marvin Adelson, who lost the ballclub after threatening to move to Massachusetts. During that year, the team was briefly known as the Rhode Island Red Sox, but that name lasted just one season. Just before the 1977 season, Canadian expatriate businessman Ben Mondor arrived to resurrect the fallen franchise, and the PawSox have thrived since then. Mondor owned the team until his death on October 3, 2010, and was a well-beloved member of the community, as he has turned the ballpark and franchise into one of the most fan-friendly in all of professional baseball.

The PawSox have brought four championship titles to McCoy Stadium and Pawtucket, winning the Governors' Cup, the championship of the International League, in 1973, 1984, 2012, and 2014.

Stadium features[edit]

The scoreboard in left field

One of the unique features of the ballpark is the expansive foul territory. The foul area forms a complete semicircle between first and third, and in order to fit the baselines in between the ends of the seating areas, the area behind home plate is quite vast. This is especially notable since the major league Red Sox' home park, Fenway Park, has the smallest foul territory in the majors.

The two dugouts are actually embedded into the wall underneath the grandstands (as are the luxury boxes, just beyond them). The first row of seats is elevated eight feet above field level. Despite that unusual box seat elevation, those seeking the signatures of the next great BoSox players have found a way to contact their PawSox, using a technique more common to fans in bleacher seats behind an outfield wall. Fans wishing to have a scorebook, baseball, baseball card, or other souvenir signed by a player will go autograph "fishing". Complete with hook and reel (or, often, a hollowed-out milk jug and a rope), autograph seekers lower their items over the front of the seats and dangle them down in front of the dugouts below. The ballplayers can sign the item, tug on the line, and the fan pulls up their newly autographed memorabilia.

A series of murals depicting notable former PawSox players was displayed in the stadium prior to the 1998 renovation, but was taken down since the new stadium configuration resulted in fans not passing them anymore. In 2004, after many fans asked what happened to them, funds were made available to restore and re-hang the old murals, as well as commission a few new ones of more recent players. Some six dozen paintings now adorn the entrance ramps throughout the stadium.[5]

The left-field berm provides great views of the action, and affords families on a budget an inexpensive[according to whom?] way to enjoy the ballpark. Above the berms are walkways, affording patrons 360-degree views of the ballpark. They are made especially for the handicapped from which to utilize and enjoy the game.[6]

Renovations[edit]

For many years, McCoy Stadium was not up to International League standards. The park had only 6,000 seats and was barely handicapped accessible. There were also a number of broken seats, and the facility was starting to show structural issues in the mid-1990s. For several years, the team's ownership was unsure of what to do, and it was even announced that the PawSox might be moved to Worcester, Massachusetts.

Eventually, owner Ben Mondor announced that they would renovate the facility, and that renovations would be done to maintain the historical integrity of the ballpark. The renovations began in 1998 and included a new terraced berm in left field, a grassy knoll where fans can sit next to the PawSox bullpen and watch the game up close.

The seating capacity was increased to 10,031 by adding three full sections of seats. In addition to the original quarter-circle seating bowl, McCoy now features an extended left-field line seating area and souvenir stand, as well as outfield bleacher seating and new parking areas. Luxury boxes were constructed below the new seating area at field level. All seats are now accessed through an entry tower near third base, instead of the circular ramps which still remain behind home plate. The seats are elevated above the field, and patrons must climb two sets of stairs (or take an elevator) to reach the main concourse and outfield berm areas.

With the renovations to the stadium, the Pawtucket Red Sox have raised attendance exponentially. The PawSox have raised their daily average from 700 per game to over 7,000, with weekend games having standing room only crowds.

Although the renovations have helped rejuvenate the team, McCoy is now the oldest and still one of the smallest stadiums in the International League.

Famous games and incidents[edit]

  • On April 18, 1981, the Pawtucket Red Sox began a game at McCoy Stadium that seemed to go on forever. It would go down in history as the longest game in professional baseball history. For 20 innings, the PawSox battled the Rochester Red Wings in a 1-1 tie. The Red Wings would finally score in the top of the 21st inning to take the lead. The PawSox then scored a run in the bottom of the inning. The game was far from over. The game went on until 4:07 a.m. because the umpires did not have a curfew rule in their copy of the rule book. Finally the league president was reached and demanded that the game be suspended. The score was tied, 2-2 after the 32nd inning. When the game finally did resume on June 23, it took only 18 minutes to complete, as Dave Koza of the PawSox drove in the winning run in the bottom of the 33rd inning.[7] Two future Hall of Famers were part of the historic game. Cal Ripken, Jr. went 2-13 on the night playing third base for Rochester. Wade Boggs played third base for Pawtucket and went 4-12 with a double and an RBI. Nineteen fans remained in the stands when the game was called for the night, and they received lifetime passes to McCoy Stadium.[8]
  • On April 9, 1992, during the PawSox' home opener against Rochester, then-WJAR-TV sports reporter Joe Rocco was trying to do a live report on the field for that day's 6:00 edition of "News Watch 10". Assumedly because the bright lights bothered some of the players, the home plate umpire went over and confronted Rocco and told him that they were not going to hold up the game for a live news report. Rocco tried to ask for 30 seconds to finish his report, but the umpire ejected him from the stadium, so Rocco had to toss it back to the studio immediately. The incident has since been seen on various blooper specials.
  • On July 3, 2001, McCoy was the site of one of the most bizarre incidents in recent times. PawSox player Israel "Izzy" Alcantara was hit by a pitch by Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Red Barons pitcher Blas Cedeño. Feeling that he had been thrown at, he responded by kicking catcher Jeremy Salazar in the chest, karate-style, before charging the mound. The pitcher wisely backed out of his way, and after momentarily trying to get anyone on the Red Barons to fight him, was engulfed in the ensuing bench-clearing brawl. Alcantara was suspended;[9] his career never recovered.
  • On April 26, 2006, Durham Bulls player and Tampa Bay Devil Rays prospect Delmon Young (younger brother of the Washington Nationals' Dmitri Young) threw a bat at a replacement umpire who had ejected him from the game. Young struck out on a called third strike, and stood at the plate (silently, according to PawSox catcher Corky Miller) before walking away. When the umpire signaled that he was ejected, Young responded by throwing his bat, end-over-end, at the umpire, who was hit in his chest protector with the bat. The International League suspended Young for 50 games for the incident.[11]

Attendance[edit]

When Ben Mondor bought control of the team in 1977, the PawSox drew only 70,354 fans (1,082 per game) to McCoy, which seated 5,800 people at the time. A few seats were added along the way, and during the mid-1990s, the park's capacity was listed as 7,002. However, until the renovated McCoy opened in 1999, it remained the league's smallest park, and even with the expansion, is still right near the bottom. Currently, McCoy's capacity exceeds the stadiums of only two other IL teams (Durham Athletic Park and Charlotte's Knights Stadium), and by only a few dozen seats at that.

In the first season of the expanded McCoy (1999), the PawSox averaged a paid attendance of 8,403 per game, and in 2000 it increased to 8,733. That figure represented 87% of every seat for every game being sold, where no other team in the league was above 70%. The club's top two attendance figures have come in 2004 and 2005, and with a paid attendance of 688,421, the '05 PawSox ranked fourth among all minor-league teams in any sport in North America. In New England, they ranked as the biggest draw of any sporting event except their parent club, the Red Sox at Fenway Park.

Going into the 2006 season, the top 88 single-game attendance figures have come in the past seven years since the expansion. The current record crowd of 11,802 was set on September 5, 2004, for a late-season game against Scranton with the PawSox in playoff contention. (The season finale the next day, at 11,067, ranks 13th.) Prior to the expansion, the notable single-game record occurred on July 1, 1982, when 9,389 showed up for the pitching match-up of Mark Fidrych versus Dave Righetti.[15]

Other events[edit]

High school football[edit]

The football field inside McCoy Stadium

Once a year, on the night before Thanksgiving, football is played inside McCoy Stadium. Tolman High School and Saint Raphael Academy play their regular season games at the adjacent Pariseau Field (also known as the McCoy Annex). But, for 73 years, the two schools played each other on Thanksgiving,[16] with most of those games played inside McCoy Stadium. That holiday rivalry ended in 2001 but the games still continue. The schools alternate the use of the stadium. Tolman hosts their new rival, the crosstown Shea High School, on the odd-number years. Saint Raphael will host Moses Brown School on the even-number years. In the mid-1990s the original Saints-Tolman game moved from Thanksgiving morning to the night before.

Concerts[edit]

For one night a summer, for three summers, McCoy Stadium has hosted a concert. Bob Dylan was the first to perform at the stadium in 2006.[17] Collective Soul, Live and Counting Crows performed in 2007. And in 2008, Boston-based bands Mighty Mighty Bosstones and Dropkick Murphys stopped at McCoy as part of a three stadium tour. The other two stadiums were Lowell's LeLacheur Park (home of the Red Sox's Single-A affiliate Lowell Spinners) and Portland, Maine's Hadlock Field (home of Double-A affiliate Portland Sea Dogs).

References[edit]

  1. ^ "2012 PawSox Media Guide". Pawtucket Red Sox Baseball Club Inc. May 4, 2012. Retrieved May 11, 2012. 
  2. ^ Borges, David (2002). The Pawtucket Red Sox. Mount Pleasant, SC: Arcadia Publishing. p. 9. ISBN 978-0-7385-1129-0. Retrieved September 22, 2011. 
  3. ^ a b Consumer Price Index (estimate) 1800–2014. Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Retrieved February 27, 2014.
  4. ^ Yankopolus, Jennifer Evans (2005). Almanac of Architecture & Design 2006. Norcross, GA: Greenway Communications, LLC. p. 306. ISBN 978-0-9755654-2-1. Retrieved September 29, 2011. 
  5. ^ "Murals at McCoy". Minor League Baseball. September 8, 2008. Retrieved May 15, 2014. 
  6. ^ Knight, Graham (April 14, 2001). "McCoy Stadium". Baseball Pilgrimages. Retrieved May 15, 2014. 
  7. ^ "Fast Finish". Time. June 6, 1981. Retrieved April 8, 2009. 
  8. ^ Sheinin, Dave (April 18, 2006). "Long Memories From a Baseball Classic; After 25 Years, 33-Inning Game Remains Fresh for Those Who Played". The Washington Post. Retrieved April 8, 2009. 
  9. ^ Associated Press (July 4, 2001). "Alcantara Suspended 6 Games for Starting Brawl". ESPN. Retrieved April 8, 2009. 
  10. ^ Associated Press (July 15, 2004). "Tenth-Inning Blast Leads International League to AAA All-Star Win". USA Today. Retrieved March 25, 2009. 
  11. ^ Associated Press (May 9, 2006). "Young Suspended 50 Games for Bat Toss". ESPN. Retrieved March 26, 2009. 
  12. ^ "International League Baseball - Charlotte vs. Pawtucket". USA Today. June 1, 2000. Retrieved March 25, 2009. 
  13. ^ Associated Press (August 10, 2003). "Arroyo Throws Perfect Game for Pawtucket". Augusta Chronicle. Archived from the original on July 1, 2009. Retrieved March 25, 2009. 
  14. ^ "BoSox Hope He Returns by Tuesday, or Before". ESPN. August 21, 2003. Retrieved April 8, 2009. 
  15. ^ "Righetti Excels, but Fidrych Wins". The New York Times. July 2, 1982. p. A14. Retrieved April 8, 2009. 
  16. ^ "Football Thanksgiving Results - St. Raphael vs. Tolman". Rhode Island High School Sports. Retrieved February 15, 2013. 
  17. ^ "Bob Dylan Pawtucket, RI - Aug 24, 2006". BobDylan.com. August 24, 2006. Retrieved March 25, 2009. 

External links[edit]