In what may have been among the most anticlimactic announcements in a long time around these parts, Worcester Red Sox officials finally put an end to the drumbeat of suspense surrounding the nickname of the team that is scheduled to start playing in Worcester in 2021.
It’s the WooSox.
Didn’t see that one coming, did you?
The team build up the suspense as much as it could, teasing for months other possible nicknames – the Gritty Kitties, the Rocket Sox, the Worcesters, to name a few. Want more? Among the 200-plus suggested names before it was whittled down to just one were the Americans, the Claws, the Dirt Dawgs, the Polar Bears, the Pride, the Ruby Legs and the Triple Deckers.
In the end, as the title of Monday night’s announcement at the Mercantile Center spelled out so clearly: Who beats the WooSox?
No one, as it turns out.
The unveiling of the nickname and logo – a pretty cool looking smiley face in what appears to be a home run stance and the letter “W” with a heart in where the letter crosses – as well as a temporary retail store inside the Mercantile Center on Front Street attracted several dozen spectators, city officials, team representatives and a healthy contingent of media. The event was broadcast on NESN and hosted by Tom Caron, with retired local sports writing legend Bill Ballou, former Boston Red Sox catcher and current Pawtucket Red Sox coach Rich Gedman and team president Charles Steinberg serving as panelists of sorts. The group waxed poetic about baseball’s significance in y Worcester and shared some fun anecdotes.
But the reason everyone was there, of course, was to find out what, oh what, would that nickname be?
A short video gave the answer, with the narrator finishing by saying, “Nobody beats the WooSox.” Then the banner was unveiled and a stream of local students filed down a set of stairs in the center lobby, showing off the new merchandise. The doors to the store opened soon after, and a steady stream of folks filed in to snatch tee-shits, jerseys, sweatshirts, ball caps, baby onesies, and more.
On stage during the special telecast, when the logo was unveiled, Gedman admitted to being emotional. Inside the store afterward, after helping a customer try on a new hat, he explained why.
“I guess being around baseball my whole life, growing up here and watching the two come together, being at the announcement of what the team is going to be called, it made me feel really special, personally,” the Worcester native who once pinch hit for the great Carl Yazstremski, said. “How many cities would like to have a team there? And to think our group, our people, stood up to make this what their kids are going to a part of. I used to walk through Crompton Park. I used to walk to the Boys Club. I used to walk to City Hall and walk through the Common. I would have been one of these kids trying to find a way into the ballpark. Emotion? It’s incredible.
“Let’s face it, it’s the Red Sox. It belongs here in Massachusetts. The people that stood up to make this happen, that’s the emotion of it. I’m just so proud to be part of it, to be around it. I think it’s so great that it happened.”