PAWTUCKET, R.I. — Officially or otherwise, summer showed up a week early.
It arrived at McCoy Stadium on Saturday afternoon, four hours before the Pawtucket Red Sox were scheduled to continue a series against the Buffalo Bisons that commenced with 16 innings of a doubleheader the previous night. The temperature was in the mid-70s; the sunshine as brilliant as ever.
What made it perfect for a picture-postcard were the hundreds of kids wearing caps and toting gloves, moving from one station to the next. Waiting on them were members of the PawSox who’d taken the field early after a late Friday for the second of four free youth clinics this season. Manager Gary DiSarcina, the coaches and a number of players offered instruction at various positions.
Men who, it’s understood, have a lot of little boy in them were teaching boys and girls about the game they play. Sharing their knowledge, they were spreading a love for their sport.
A couple of evenings earlier, with the sun nowhere to be seen from muddied New England, there was another McCoy Stadium scene worth remembering. The Sox and Bisons were awaiting an inevitability: the announcement of a postponement. One player stood on a messy warning track, signing autographs for youngsters who were, likewise, sticking around in the rain.
In this case, it was catcher Ryan Lavarnway. It might as well have been any number of his teammates, such as one of the guys conducting Saturday’s clinic. Baseball, particularly in Pawtucket, has plenty of ambassadors.
Mercury was also falling. It felt more like mid-April than mid-June.
Yet, on a damp and dreary night at the ballpark, someone was spreading sunshine.