Pirates Origins: City of Worcester

By: Peter Roseman
Pirates Writer
March 24, 2021

Worcester, which translates to “war-castle”, was first inhabited by the Nipmuc tribe. After two failed attempts, Jonas Rice permanently resettled the area and named it after a city in England. Worcester was first incorporated as a town in 1722. One notable resident, future president John Adams worked as a school teacher and studied law in Worcester between the years of 1755-58. In 1776 local publisher Isaiah Thomas performed the first public reading of the Declaration of Independence on the steps of Worcester town hall.

In the early 19th century Worcester began emerging as a manufacturing hub and, with the addition of the Blackstone Canal, the city thrived, producing textiles, shoes, and clothing. Ichabod Washburn opened the Washburn & Moen Company in 1831 and it became the largest wire manufacturing company in the nation. By 1848, Worcester incorporated as a city. Immigrants from all over Europe settled in the burgeoning city, expanding streets and neighborhoods. The future was bright for Worcester, eventually referred to as the Heart of the Commonwealth, due to its location. The late 1800’s brought the first monkey wrench, the first Valentine’s Day cards, and even the first ever Major League perfect game, all taking place in Worcester. Lee Richmond, pitching for the Worcester Ruby Legs, set down 27 straight batters at the Worcester Agricultural Fairgrounds.

Harvey Ball creating Smiley posters in 1998.

After World War II the city saw its first decline in population, shrinking 20% between the years of 1950 and 1980. As manufacturing jobs were increasingly shipped overseas, the city found itself suffering. It wasn’t until the late 20th century when Worcester began a full recovery. With help from expansion into biotechnology and healthcare, the city’s economy recaptured its past glory and more closely resembled the city we know and love today.

Nowadays Worcester greets visitors at the city line with a giant stuffed polar bear, compliments of the Polar Beverage Company. Twelve colleges and universities call the city home. One of the city’s nicknames, Wormtown, first coined by a radio disc jockey in the 80’s to describe the underground music scene, is still part of our vernacular. With pride, Worcester natives point to the nation’s iconic, cultural Smiley face as born here, compliments of Harvey Ball in ‘63.

And in April of 2014, then-Mayor Joseph Petty recognized Worcester as a Purple Heart City. With this proclamation, the mayor made it clear that Worcester was a welcoming city to all men and women who’ve served their country. As a result, dozens of cities and towns across the United States have followed Worcester’s lead, meaning more and more veterans will continue to be honored across the land. August 7th is well-known today as Purple Heart Day thanks in part to Worcester.

Back in 2017 the Massachusetts Pirates franchise was introduced. Jawad Yatim, founder, co-owner, president, general manager, and director of corporate partnership sales announced the team would begin playing in spring 2018. On April 7, 2018 Yatim’s team took the field at DCU Center for the first time. Football was back in Worcester, with immediate success and an appearance in the playoffs the first year of the team’s existence. So beware, straight outta Worcester, these Pirates run hard, hit harder, and are going to dominate the IFL this season. DCU is their War Castle, Worcester is their city.

The Massachusetts Pirates are members of the Indoor Football League (IFL). The Pirates play all home games at the DCU Center located at 50 Foster St. Worcester, MA. 01608. For more information on the Massachusetts Pirates please call (508) 452-MASS (6277), email contact@masspiratesfootball.com or visit http://www.masspiratesfootball.com. Single-game tickets will be available soon at ticketmaster.com or the DCU Center Box Office. For season, half-season, luxury, or group ticket packages please call 508-452-MASS (6277). Follow the Pirates on Facebook via Facebook.com/MAPirates, Instagram @mass.pirates, and Twitter @mass_pirates. #GetHooked #AllAboard