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There's nothing like the real McCoy in Pawtucket but IL's quaintest park is about to be replaced

FT. LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- I have arrived down South for the Sabres' road trip which also, of course, puts baseball at the forefront of my brain. Spring training games have not started, however, and the NHL trade deadline will keep me close to home base as the Sabres get set to meet the Florida Panthers on Saturday and the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday, a day after Monday's 3 p.m. deadline.

I was catching up on some baseball reading today and I realized I completely missed a big news item in the International League this week: The Pawtucket Red Sox have been sold and are almost certain to be moving out of McCoy Stadium in the next couple of years.

By the sound of things, the parent Red Sox want to build a money-maker in the middle of downtown Providence. It will be a huge cash cow, no doubt. It will be a great new park, much like the ones we've seen open in recent years in Columbus and Charlotte.

But it won't be McCoy. And that's a shame.

McCoy is the IL's throwback place, a ballpark that opened in 1946 and has seen time pretty much stand still -- even though there was a big renovation in 1998. The park is in the middle of a neighborhood in the tiny Rhode Island city. Parking is free. Yes, free. They'll tell you where the best spots are in the lot so your can won't get dinged by foul balls.

The concourses are filled with wonderful history displays of the Pawsox (something I've chided the Bisons to get on the stick about and they've still failed with). There's a massive display about the 1981 PawSox-Rochester game that went 33 innings and still stands as the longest game in professional history.

DSCN2057The New York Times did a story on McCoy on Tuesday. Scroll down and look at the picture of David Ortiz on rehab in 2008 signing autographs in the dugout. The kids "fish" for them, tying strings to buckets. Players sign and the kids pull them back in the stands. Awesome. Click on the picture at left I took in 2012 for another look.

When Boston.com did its story, the lead quote from a resident about the potential move was "It's going to kill the town."

By the sounds of things, you have two more years to get to McCoy if you've never been there. Maybe three. Do it. If you're heading to Boston for a Red Sox game, save a ton of money and go to one less game in Fenway. That will cover the cost of your rental car and allow you to hit I-95. You can get there in less than an hour. It's like a time travel. I've been there a few times. I intend to get back once more.

The Longest Game display at McCoy Stadium.

The Longest Game display at McCoy Stadium.

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