Rhode Island keeps haunting me. Google sent me on a wild goose chase for a place in Pawtucket whose street number was 28. There were doors labeled 26 and 30 that were about eight inches apart. Maybe I’m just in the wrong dimension to ever find ice cream in this tiny state. Thankfully, I was right next to the $2 parking lot for the baseball field where I got a helmet full of Cookies And Cream.
McCoy Stadium was built in 1942 by Pawtucket mayor Thomas McCoy. While the field was dormant during much of the 1950s and 60s, the Boston Red Sox brought their AAA franchise to this locale. A renovation in 1999 modernized the facilities and there are great sight lines all around the park. There is a lot of great standing room area, especially in left field where there is both a beer garden and a lawn that you can stretch out on. As long as you don’t get stuck in seats behind the press box, you’re bound to have a good time.
This game was pretty inconsequential. With only three games remaining in the season, the Pawtucket Red Sox had already clinched their playoff birth, and on this night the scheduled starter Michael Bowden had been elevated to the majors to make a start for Boston (he was sent back down after his victory, presumably to help the PawSox in their playoff run). The game itself was a lot like an extended batting practice as the teams combined for 38 hits and 21 runs in a 11-10 ten inning victory for the grammatically incorrect Buffalo Bisons.
After being sick for a few days running, I arrived dehydrated and started the evening with a terrible hamburger and a jumbo pink lemonade. With a half-empty stadium, I wandered around a bit and found two vending machines for Powerade, one was sold out, the other only accepted quarters and you needed to have ten of them on hand and the concessionaires were unhelpful. I did locate a water fountain in centerfield. After normalizing myself a bit, I made my way to the ice cream concessions. There were two adjacent stands: one with Dippin’ Dots, and the other with Hershey’s ice cream. I opted for the latter and after discovering that they were out of my first three flavor choices – and that crazy vanilla was merely vanilla with swirls of food coloring – I went with cookies and cream.
For a stadium ice cream that could have been sitting around the park for ages, this was remarkably good. I sat down with my brother and sister-in-law near third base and made my way through the two scoops that filled the miniature baseball helmet. There were no other options for how to eat your ice cream – no cones, no sundaes, no frappes – but the helmet probably would have cost as much with no ice cream in it at the souvenir stand. A simple cream with relatively fresh pieces of Oreo-ish cookie, this was the sort of treat I needed after this lingering ear infection (and subsequent fever) has kept me away from ice cream stands for a few days running.
As an added treat, leaving the park, Ciao Bella had set up a truck outside of the gates and was giving out free samples of their gelatos and sorbets. While the line seemed too long to stand around to wait in for the tiny cups they were offering, I did procure a coupon for a free pint. Coupled with the coupon for free McDonalds French fries that we were given because the PawSox struck out ten Bisons, and a coupon for a free birthday hamburger at B.Good in Harvard Square, I’ve got a pretty good free meal to pick up.
Oddity for baseballers (and punkers) but not ice creamers: late in the game I realized that at AAA the team managers actually serve as third base coaches. While looking through the coaching roster of the Bisons, I noticed that one of my favorite pitching personalities was now their pitching coach: Scott Radinsky. The irony of this is many-fold, as Radinsky was the first pitcher since Doc Gooden to make the leap directly from A ball to the majors and stick, so he never even played AAA (he also has the most appearances of any Jewish pitcher in major league history). More impressively, he is the only baseball player ever to grace the cover of the punk publication Maximumrocknroll (he sang in the band Scared Straight and Pulley but the cover was dedicated to him alone).
Helmet – 2scoops $4
Open mid-April to September 1 (plus playoffs and special events)