Howard Herman | Designated Hitter: Some thoughts on the WooSox announcement
Friday's news that the Pawtucket Red Sox were pulling up stakes in the Ocean State for a brand-new stadium in Worcester caught nobody by surprise, especially if you were paying attention.
Some reports have it that some $35 million of the $90 million total will come from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Whether that is for the actual construction or for infrastructure around Polar Park, we do not know.
What should be forthcoming is that if the state will pony up $35 million to help Worcester, it would be nice to see the state hand some money out around here to help with similar projects.
For example, a six-figure donation to the turf field project at Berkshire Community College could provide for full bleachers on both sides of the field, a new scoreboard (for the multiple sports that will use the field) and a decent-sized press box so the P.A. announcer, the scoreboard operators, broadcast and print reporters can all work in relative comfort.
If not that, then some renovation money at Wahconah Park would be put to good use by the city.
Some money could go toward updating the locker rooms and coaches offices in both the home and road clubhouses. I am also certain that replacing the grass with a new surface would be advantageous to the teams that call Wahconah Park home.
Now, after reading all of the coverage in the Worcester and Boston areas, little was mentioned about the fate of the Futures League's Worcester Bravehearts.
The Bravehearts are to Worcester what the Pittsfield Suns are to Berkshire County. Both teams had to follow some rough seasons with independent professional baseball. Both the Bravehearts and the Suns worked tirelessly to rebuild the sport in their communities.
But when the Pawtucket ownership and Worcester officials did their respective happy dances on Friday, the Bravehearts were like the bride left at the altar.
The Creedon family, which owns the FCBL team, seems ready to battle for its share of the baseball pie in Worcester.
"We are not going away," John Creedon, president and owner of the team, wrote in a statement released late Friday.
That is a good thing for the Bravehearts, for the Suns, the Futures League and baseball in Central Massachusetts.
It would be an especially disappointing thing for the league were the team to disappear in two years.
Worcester and Pittsfield are the flagship teams of the Futures League. They have been among the best draws in the league since both were founded. The Bravehearts have something the Suns do not, however, and that is a league championship trophy.
Since Worcester is the second largest city in New England, there should be room enough for a college wood bat summer league team and a minor league team belonging to the local Major League club, and a minor league team at the highest level.
Now it has been suggested by columnists across the state that the WooSox — and that does not roll trippingly off my typing fingers — need to do some things in order to plant their roots in Worcester.
It was suggested that the Central Massachusetts baseball championship games be played at Polar Park. Not bad, but I would suggest the state championships be played there. Ideally, the state finals should be at Fenway, but that is a discussion for another day.
If Lucchino and his people really want to plant their flag, they should take some cues from Rick Murphy and the Tri-City ValleyCats.
People in the Albany area have no real reason to support the ValleyCats, who are a Houston Astros farm club. But they sell out practically every game, and that's because it's about what the ValleyCats do, not who they're affiliated with.
Once all the contracts are signed, the first thing the Sox should do is start rebuilding youth baseball and softball fields in Central Massachusetts.
Nothing will get them more positive publicity and could generate more goodwill than that. It's something the ValleyCats do every year. And you wonder why tickets are so hard to get.
But if the Worcester Red Sox step on the Bravehearts, we'll have to talk about that.
Howard Herman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, @howardherman on Twitter or 413-496-6253.
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