All of this meant that on opening day in McCoy, in an old mill town that could enjoy a break, all one could hear was the cooing of feathered door smashers.
“Hear the birds and not hear baseball,” said Crawley, 52. “It’s a strange feeling.
The history of the Pawtucket Red Sox carries the familiar moral that ultimately baseball is a business. But it is also the story of a lost identity document. This minor league team was as much a part of Rhode Island as the Quahogs, or Del’s lemonade, or the dear stories of once crossing such a gangster at such and such a joint.
The team started as a Double-A team in 1970, playing their games here at McCoy, a Works Progress Administration project built on a swamp 80 years ago. According to local tradition, oceans of cement were needed to solidify the soft ground, for the benefit of connected entrepreneurs.
The team moved up to Triple-A in 1973, where the franchise struggled to survive until a wealthy entrepreneur named Ben Mondor took over in 1977. What he didn’t know about the game ‘he made up for it with his business acumen. A Pawtucket Red Sox game has grown into an affordable family event, with reasonably priced tickets, cheap concessions, and – it was its genius – free parking.