Review by Gary
McCoy Stadium, opened in 1942, was once the jewel of Rhode Island, but by the 1990s, neglect had taken it’s toll and the ballpark looked old and tired. However, in 1998, new ownership paid for some much-needed renovations and improvements, while increasing the seating capacity from 6,000 to just over 10,000. Today, the Pawtucket Red Sox regularly draw huge crowds and have standing-room only attendance on weekends. The Sox do a great job of providing pre-game entertainment outside the stadium to engage the big crowds waiting to buy tickets and enter. A very good Rush cover band belted out some classic tunes while kids played corn-hole and other carnival-like games. (Note: The Pawsox moved to Worcester in 2021)
When traveling to McCoy, make sure that you arrive early to take advantage of the close and free on-street parking, as the stadium is nestled near homes, small businesses and a middle school. While you can pay to park in private lots or park on the streets for free anywhere, you may easily be in for a hike if you arrive late. We parked, legally, on the grounds of Joseph Jenks Middle School beyond the outfield fence, and I send special kudos to the Pawtucket Police, who did a superb job of managing traffic and parking around the stadium.
Named after the 1930’s era mayor who brought the team to the area, McCoy Stadium opened in 1942 and has been the home ever since of the Boston Red Sox International League team affectionately known as the Paw Sox. There is a plethora of Hall of Fame and notable Red Sox players who honed their skills here, honored with massive photos hanging on the exterior fence around the stadium’s perimeter.
The two dugouts are set underneath the grandstands, which is unusual. Also located under the stands are the screened-in luxury boxes just beyond the dugouts. The first row of reserved seats is eight feet above field level and above the dugouts, so those seeking the signatures of the players go autograph "fishing". Complete with hook and reel, autograph hounds lower their items on strings and dangle them down in front of the dugouts below. The ballplayers can sign the item, tug on the line, and the fan reels in their newly autographed memorabilia.
Another feature of the ballpark is the vast foul territory formed by the semi-circular shape of the main grandstand. Hanging on the walls of the entrance exterior ramps around the stadium are dozens of paintings & murals of former Red Sox players who came through Pawtucket on their way to Fenway Park in Boston. I thought it was odd that for as long as the AAA Paw Sox have been a Boston affiliate that they would not have crafted a Green Monster in left field for the players to become accustomed to before making the move to Beantown. I mean, even York has a green monster, for heaven’s sake!
If you plan on attending a game at McCoy Stadium, you may want to do so soon. Team ownership is considering either doing another major renovation or building a brand new stadium here, or more probably, NOT in Pawtucket for the same expense. These dedicated fans may find themselves driving to Massachusetts to see their Paw Sox very soon. If that happens, maybe another minor league team will happily take up residence at McCoy Stadium. It’s a great place to see a game and the fans will stay as long as it takes to see their team win (see below)!
"I visited McCoy in 1998, just before the renovation and I can attest to the fact that the ballpark was in bad shape. Great bones, nice location, lovely roof, but very dirty and in a generally sorry condition. I am very glad that it was saved in a way that honored the old while embracing the new."
McCoy Stadium is also the site of the longest ever professional baseball game, lasting 33 innings over 3 days in 1981. The first 20 innings were played overnight until suspended in the 4th inning and completed 2 months later when Rochester returned only to lose after another 13 grueling innings. The 2nd coolest thing about this game is that the 19 fans that remained in the stands when the game was suspended for the night at 4 AM received lifetime passes to McCoy Stadium for their dedication to the team. Now THAT’S a fan and a great organization!
The theme of the game I attended was “Beatles Night”. As such, there was a Millennial radio station employee trying to get fans to sign a huge birthday card for one of the Fab Four members who would be coming to town soon. With a smile, I had to correct the Mop-Topped Heartthrob’s name she was mispronouncing, as it was certainly not Paul “McCarthy”.
Here is a photo of McCoy Stadium from Mike's visit in 1998, before the renovations.