With infield dirt in place, Polar Park rounds bases toward Opening Day
WORCESTER – Fourteen months after ground was broken, Polar Park finally began to look like a baseball field last week when a mix of sand and silt was spread out in the shape of the infield with a tripod positioned where home plate will be.
“You’re looking at a diamond in the rough,” Worcester Red Sox President Dr. Charles Steinberg said Wednesday.
Make that a baseball diamond in the rough.
Steinberg and Bart Harvey, the team’s director of ballpark planning, gave a tour of the ballpark to a Telegram & Gazette reporter and photographer last week. Everyone wore masks, and Steinberg wore a WooSox mask that the team is selling online at gowoosox.com.
All of the outfield walls are up; they’re concrete and will eventually be painted blue. It is 330 feet down the left-field line, 391 to left center, 403 to dead center, 371 to right center and 320 down the right-field line.
There’s no 37-foot Green Monster in left field like at Fenway Park, but there is a 22-foot Worcester Wall in right field and there will be seats on top. The rest of the outfield walls are 8 feet high to give outfielders a chance to make leaping catches to rob home runs.
The light towers are in place, including those in left-center field and right-center field whose lights are positioned to form a heart.
“When there’s a high fly ball in right-center field,” Steinberg said, “and you see the heart-shaped light towers, you know you’re in Worcester. You could only be in the Heart of the Commonwealth.”
Steinberg pointed out that WooSox Chairman and principal owner Larry Lucchino and architect Janet Marie Smith changed the look of ballparks forever when they designed Oriole Park at Camden Yards in Baltimore, ending an era of cookie-cutter, concrete, circular-bowl ballparks that provided no views of the city.
Polar Park followed the tradition of Camden Yards by integrating itself into its neighborhood and is shaped like a boomerang instead of a circle to allow fans to sit closer to the field.
Kentucky bluegrass sod from Tuckahoe Turf Farms in New Jersey is scheduled to be planted next month so it can take root before the winter and be ready to go in April, when the Triple A farm club of the Boston Red Sox is scheduled to make its Worcester debut after playing for half a century in Pawtucket, Rhode Island.
The team said it hopes to have the seats installed before the snow flies. Ranging from 19 to 21 inches, the seats will be wider than most at Fenway Park.
Of course, the initial season of the WooSox could be delayed if the pandemic doesn’t end. All of minor league baseball was canceled this season. Steinberg is doing his best to remain optimistic and he would like to pass along some words of hope to WooSox fans.
“I would say to them what we said on billboards across Boston in 2004 – keep the faith,” Steinberg said.
In 2004, with that slogan in mind, the Red Sox went on to snap their 86-year championship drought by winning the World Series. In 2021, the WooSox would merely like to take the field.
Even though construction was halted for seven weeks last spring by the pandemic, the ballpark is on schedule to open on time.
“As long as we don’t hit any more roadblocks, we should be good,” Harvey said.
The ballpark provides great views of the city. From the field level you can see the Union Station towers, the steeple of St. John’s Church, the Mercantile Center and several other downtown buildings.
Harvey called the view of the towers a pleasant…