Finally, Just in Time – the Real McCoy
I have been wanting to add McCoy Stadium to my list of minor league stadiums for quite a while. But as often is the case, you tend to overlook or take for granted things that are in your back yard. Although my quest has taken me around the country and around the world, and the drive to Pawtucket only takes 2 hours, I didn’t see a game there until now. As time was ticking down on another season, Bobby and I decided to take the short trek and catch the last game of the 2010 regular season. It was a contest between the Pawtucket Red Sox and the Syracuse Chiefs.
As it turned out, it was a special occasion to boot as Jim Martin ended his 17-year tenure as the Paw Sox Public Address announcer, working his final game at McCoy Stadium. He threw out the first pitch and then announced the starting line-ups from the field. Martin will continue to work as the voice of the Boston Bruins.
McCoy stadium seats about 10,000. The stadium itself is nice – a little quirky with some unique nuances. There is a little grassy “berm” in left field and bleachers in right. For one, the luxury boxes are located on the field level. All other seats are raised above the level of the field. This presents an interesting challenge for kids to get autographs. Since they don’t have “direct” access to the players as they are about 10 feet above them, some creativity is required. To surmount this obstacle, they lower buckets, bags and modified milk cartons containing the item to be signed down to the players via a rope. Once the item is signed, it is retrieved by pulling it back up.
Our seats were all the way out in section 1. Turns out that section 1 is even with the first base bag.
There is a lot of history reflected in the building with pictures, plaques, etc. The most prominent item details the longest game in professional baseball history. The game was 33 innings and played over the course of 3 days: April 18 & 19 and June 23, 1981. They have a marvelous tribute to this historic event.
Oh, and the game, it had its moments as well. In the first inning, Michael Martinez was picked off of first but when everyone failed to cover first, he was able to slide back in safely. Meanwhile, R.A. Ramirez struck out 7 in 5.2 innings. Did I mention that Jason Varitek was re-habbing? He was a crowd favorite and went 1 for 3. The most embarrassing play of the game occurred in the top of the 6th inning involved Pete Orr of Syracuse who hit a solo home run earlier in the game.With Chase Lambin on first, Orr singled to right advancing the Lambin to third. After rounding first, Orr turned and headed back to the bag. As the right fielder, Aaron Bates returned the ball to the infield, shortstop Niuman Romero quickly relayed to first to first baseman, Jorge Jimenez who tagged the unaware Orr for the third out of the inning. This helped Pawtucket to hold on for a 4-3 win to close out their season.
After the game, Pawtucket continued their traditional end of the season celebration of thanking their fans. The entire roster was introduced and lined up on the field. They then spent several minutes throwing souvenir “baseballs” into the stands to the excited fans in a gesture to demonstrate appreciation of the fans. It was a nice way to cap off the season.
The game was over, so was the Pawtucket season. It was another notch on the belt for the Baseball Stadium Connoisseur and all that was left was the ride home. But before departing, who did we run into in the parking lot….