Fans in Red Sox Nation may need a little time to get used to the Boston Red Sox’s Triple-A affiliate being located in Worcester, Mass., starting in 2021 as opposed to Pawtucket, R.I.
Officials with the Worcester Red Sox didn’t make the transition any easier Monday when they shared that the team will officially be known as the WooSox.
Since the 1970s the Red Sox have had an affiliate in Pawtucket that’s been affectionately knowns as the PawSox.
However, it would seem that the WooSox name was decided on right around the time the Red Sox decided to pull out of Pawtucket for Worcester, WooSox chairman and principal owner Larry Lucchino actually said many names were considered.
“We love that the fans actually named the team,” Lucchino said in a statement. “We asked everyone from kids in kindergarten to octogenarians at senior centers to give suggestions and reactions, and while many suggestions and debates were clever, in the end, we discovered what Worcester already knew: nobody beats the WooSox.”
Pawtucket Red Sox president Charles Steinberg said that more than 1,000 people submitted somewhere around 218 potential team names.
“We were amused by the Gritty Kitties, Night Owls, and Green Bananas, a reference to the unripened fruit that will soon head from Polar Park to Fenway Park,” Steinberg said in a statement. “So some of the remaining suggestions, such as the Worcester Worcesters, the Wonderdogs, and the Wicked Worms, may yet see the light of day — or the grass and the dirt.”
Steinberg and the WooSox might resurrect some of the rejected names for theme nights, a popular promotion in minor league ballparks around the country.
The name had a plus as the WooSox unveiled their logo, whose name is “Smiley Ball” in honor of Worcester native Harvey Ball, who designed the first smiley face in 1963. And the cursive script W on the WooSox’s hats has a heart in the middle, which represents the city of Worcester’s motto: the “Heart of the Commonwealth.”
While so much talk about minor league baseball right now is about the plan that was floated for Major League Baseball to consolidate its affiliates and eliminate short-season leagues, the arrival of minor league baseball in Worcester is actually coming closer than anticipated.
Back in July, the WooSox broke ground on Polar Park, which will be the 10,000 seat home of the baseball club, plus a year-round host to all sorts of sporting events and concerts. The downtown Worcester facility will also bring with it apartments, two hotels, 96,000 feet of office space and 65,000 feet of retail and restaurant space.
Now the revitalization of Worcester got a name and a face, a smiley face, to go with it.
Though, it won’t do much to console the fans of Rhode Island, who supported the PawSox for nearly 50 years, the Boston Red Sox’s prospects will soon be playing in a 21st century facility with all the amenities organizations now crave for their personnel. That was something that proved nearly impossible to get done in Rhode Island.
“I was the last one to think we would leave [Pawtucket],” Steinberg told the Boston Globe. “But Worcester just demonstrated, along with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, a remarkable spirit.
“They were just great to work with.”