This season, the PawSox will have a new identity for (almost) every Tuesday game: Osos Polares de Pawtucket. This new initiative is designed to recognize Rhode Island’s sizable Latinx community. To do this, the PawSox will trade their team name for a corresponding Spanish one and wear Spanish-language uniforms. The PawSox are just one out of 33 Minor League Baseball teams chosen to participate in this initiative, called Copa de la Diversión.
“The goal is to let everyone in the community know that they are welcome at McCoy Stadium and they are welcome to PawSox games,” says Brooke Coderre, director of marketing and merchandising for the PawSox, “regardless of background or the language they speak at home.”
“Osos Polares” translates as “Polar Bears,” referring to Paws and Sox, the PawSox’s beloved mascots. Tuesday games will feature Latin music playing throughout the stadium, PA and line-up information in Spanish, bilingual video board information, and even food trucks serving Latin American cuisine. At the end of the season, the players’ jerseys will be auctioned off, with the proceeds going to a U.S. Hispanic/Latinx-focused organization in the community.
“The key emphasis isn’t just the name change, but the celebration of Latino culture through music, food, highlighting Latino and Hispanic players, etc.,” says Coderre. “This initiative matters to the people in our community, and that is by far the most exciting thing about it.” The initiative was announced by PawSox Broadcaster Will Flemming at Ella Risk Elementary School, where the student population is 78 percent Latinx. When he switched the announcement to Spanish, the gym erupted in applause. “For as much planning that went into this,” Coderre says, “it was the unscripted reaction from the crowd of children that sent chills through my spine.”