A city loses its heart

I wonder if Pawtucket, R.I. is an organ donor, because what else will the Boston Red Sox do with the city’s collective heart after the parent club ripped it out last month.

My heart goes out to the city of Pawtucket, its residents, its businesses that thrived on having the PawSox in town, employees of the club, and the fans. They are all victims of the heartless “business” of sports.

Last month the PawSox were sold and the new owners’ plan is to move the club to Providence, leaving a gaping hole in the collective soul of the hard-working inhabitants of Pawtucket.

Business as usual, without much regard for the little people — as usual.

The PawSox have been part of that town for 45 years — nearly half a century. Yet with the few strokes of a pen, it’s all crashing down.

Eight years into its existence Mr. Ben Mondor who loved the PawSox and the city, as much as Mr. Robert Kraft loved the New England Patriots, bought the club in 1977 and turned the floundering franchise into a winner in more ways than one. Mondor immediately restored the name Pawtucket Red Sox, replacing the Rhode Island Red Sox that had a one-year hitch in 1976.

Mondor turned the ballpark into a family-friendly haven with free parking and inexpensive tickets. The club became successful, but it was the fans who made the PawSox the PawSox. 

Pawtucket routinely topped or was at the top of the International League (AAA league) in attendance. Why? For all the reasons instituted by Gentle Ben mentioned earlier.

The PawSox had its share of notable players perform on the pristine field of McCoy Stadium, either as members of the club, or on rehab stints. Major League Hall of Famers Carlton Fisk, Dennis Eckersley, Jim Rice, and Wade Boggs. Others included Roger Clemens, Tony Conigliaro, Nomar Garciaparra, Sam Horn, Mo Vaughn, Jon Lester, Manny Ramirez, Dustin Pedroia, Jason Varitek and Tim Wakefield.

Even future Hall of Famers, Yankee greats Mariano Rivera and Derek Jeter, graced the diamond at McCoy.

The PawSox and McCoy were part of the longest game ever played in professional baseball — a 33-inning affair against the Rochester Red Wings — a game that started on April 18, 1984 and ended two months later on June 23 with a 3-2 PawSox win.

There were no drunken fans at McCoy and no vulgarities hurled at the players. There were reasonably priced hot dogs and soda and popcorn and ice cream. The mascots Paws and Sox constantly roamed the cozy park evoking smiles from the plethora of children in attendance (adults too). 

Beatle great George Harrison once sang “All things must pass.” And because of business as usual, the fun and games provided by the Pawtucket Red Sox will pass in the not-too-distant future. They’re slated to again become the Rhode Island Red Sox.

It didn’t work the first time, but there is no Ben Mondor to make it right this time.

My heart goes out to you Pawtucket — for having yours ripped out because of business as usual.

davejolivet@anchornews.org

© 2018 The Anchor and Anchor Publishing   †   Fall River, Massachusetts