The state’s newest minor league baseball team, set to begin playing in Worcester in 2021, reverted to the silly when choosing a name (the “WooSox”) and mascot (a yellow, smiley-faced character reminiscent of a Walmart commercial).

The Triple-A affiliate of the Red Sox might be forgiven the name, which is reminiscent of its current “PawSox” brand, what with it playing in Pawtucket, Rhode Island. And, truth be told, the name is yards better than some of the alternatives. A list of rejects is making the rounds — Chowdaheads, Wicked Awesomes, Duck Boats, Hilltoppers and Triple Deckers among them.

But the anthropomorphized smiley face — with arms, baseball bat, ball cap and, of course, knee-high red socks? (We’re assuming it has knees since it appears to have elbows.) In some other context, it would be rolling back prices. Or maybe chasing ghosts across a video game screen (hat tip to the MassLive writer for the Pac-Man reference).

This one’s playing baseball, and so it appears, perpetually smiling.

Well, it didn’t just come out of nowhere. In an elaborate graphic explaining all of the references embedded in this single logo, the WooSox point out that the smiling batter’s swing is a combination of those of Ted Williams and David Ortiz. There’s a heart hidden in the W on the character’s bat — a reference to the commercial Valentine’s industry born in Worcester.

And the yellow one itself recalls a smiley face image designed by freelance artist Harvey Ball for the State Mutual Life Assurance Co. of Worcester to use on buttons, stationery and posters in 1963.

Less than a decade later, the design was appropriated and took on a life of its own.

It’s a lot to put on the shoulders of a single minor league mascot. The most pressing question now is, can it hit a curveball?



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