WORCESTER — The new nickname for the soon-to-be-going-going-gone Pawtucket Red Sox has been unveiled.
In an announcement where the obvious choice became crystallized, the team will officially be known as the WooSox once the final out is recorded at McCoy Stadium.
Hand-in-hand with the smiley-faced logo that features elements that are inspired by some of the top left-handed hitters in Red Sox history – the names mentioned Monday night before a live television audience inside the lobby of the Mercantile Center included Ted Williams and David Ortiz – there also comes a merchandise rollout. Just in time for the holidays, fans can purchase WooSox apparel, including caps, T-shirts and sweatshirts.
As the overlap between the still current Triple-A affiliate of the Red Sox and the club’s future home continues to hang in the air like a pop-up, will those lines be drawn even closer in the form of selling WooSox gear inside the McCoy team store? It was a question that was posed to three of the club’s top officials after Monday’s hour-long program had concluded.
“I would love to know how many of our fans would want that because it is a question,” said PawSox president Dr. Charles Steinberg. “Out of respect, we originally thought no. We didn’t want to do anything that would further stoke the emotions. But a lot of [Pawtucket] fans have told us that they’re coming with us. Just like naming [the Worcester team], we need to listen to the fans in Pawtucket and Southeastern Massachusetts. Do you want that?”
Stated Larry Lucchino, principal owner chairman, “If people want it, we will serve our constituents.”
Ever since the PawSox announced plans for relocation in August 2018, the team has been operating with a dual purpose.
The expiration date in Pawtucket had been established. Only two more seasons remained where fans could head to McCoy Stadium to see Red Sox hopefuls while enjoying the action at a ballpark that remains charming but is crying out for upgrades that would cater to the modern-day fan. On the flip side, there was a new market to make inroads with – patrons and businesses that couldn’t wait to attach their name or brand to the new baseball team on the block.
With one season remaining at McCoy, the goal is to finish up strong. However, business is business. If there’s already a built-in template that can accommodate merchandise, why not pedal the goods in the name of enticing fans to follow the ballclub up Route 146?
“There still are sensitivities there that we want to be respectful of. Having a retail spot [in Worcester] is a great option, but we’ll manage the dual tracks like we have over the past year and a half,” said Dan Rea, PawSox executive vice president. “We want to leave Pawtucket with our heads held high and do it in a way that keeps us in a good place as far as our legacy.”
The PawSox aren’t the first minor-league franchise to wrestle with the conundrum of trying to cater to two markets at the same time. In the summer of 2014 when New Britain, Conn. was getting set to say goodbye to its Double-A club, fans had the chance to purchase tickets to the Hartford YardGoats from a booth that was set up inside New Britain Stadium.
Again, it’s about walking that fine line between focusing on the present but also looking ahead to the future.
“I think every situation is a little bit unique, but there are good lessons to take from teams who have moved to another market or someplace else within the same market,” said Rea. “We’re combining all those lessons and trying figure out what’s tasteful and appropriate to both Pawtucket and Worcester.”
The nickname “WooSox” was deemed the top choice of the 218 unique names that were submitted for consideration. The list of possible names for the Worcester ballclub included PawSox, Osos Polares, Polar Bears and Defectors.
Follow Brendan McGair on Twitter @BWMcGair03