BOSTON -- The International League honored two of its newest Hall of Fame inductees on Saturday at McCoy Stadium in Pawtucket, R.I.
Pawtucket Red Sox team president Mike Tamburro and former third baseman Wade Boggs were honored in a pregame ceremony.
The Boston Red Sox are fortunate, in a lot of ways, to have their Triple-A affiliate only 45 miles south of Fenway Park. The atmosphere at McCoy Stadium is as close to the big leagues as anywhere else in minor league baseball.
When players reach Triple-A Pawtucket, they’re treated like big leaguers by the PawSox organization and their fans. This season alone, there have been 26 players called up from Pawtucket.
Red Sox outfielder Daniel Nava is one of them, and he knows first-hand how special the PawSox organization is for the Red Sox. In fact, all the current Red Sox players who played for the PawSox were thrilled for Tamburro’s honor.
“Mike’s done a great job of making Pawtucket an atmosphere where fans want to come to, and players feel like the fans support them," said Nava. "Playing in the minors, I never played in front of more than 1,000 and then you start playing in Pawtucket and you get a packed house. Obviously, you can’t compare it to 37,000 fans [at Fenway], but the love and support the fans have at McCoy Stadium, you definitely feel like you’re at the doorstep of being in Boston.
“Mike, and the PawSox family, have always done a great job of letting us know they’re there and supporting us," added Nava. "He’s made Pawtucket known for the Pawtucket Red Sox. I’m happy for him. I think everyone in this clubhouse who has gone through Pawtucket know that he’s a great guy and has done a great job with the team. He’s always done everything he could to make us feel at home.”
Current Red Sox third baseman Will Middlebrooks' minor-league development was a bit different than when Boggs came up in the Red Sox organization in the late '70s and early '80s. Boggs, also a Hall of Famer in Cooperstown, spent a total of six seasons in the minors, including 266 games for the PawSox.
Middlebrooks spent just over four seasons in the minors and played only 40 games for the PawSox before he made his major league debut on May 2 this season.
“It says a lot about him,” Middlebrooks said of Boggs’ induction in the IL Hall of Fame. “The minor leagues are tough, man. It’s a grind every day. Not saying it’s not [a grind] up here, but this is where you want to be and it’s a little easier getting up for a game here than playing every day down in the minors.
“For someone to spend that much time down there and then come up here and do what he did is pretty impressive,” said Middlebrooks.