The Worcester Worcesters were a 19th-century Major League Baseball team from 1880 to 1882 in the National League. The team is referred to, at times, as the Brown Stockings or the Ruby Legs; however, no contemporary sources from the time exist that support the use of either name. The Ruby Legs played their home games at the Worcester Driving Park Grounds in the Worcester Agricultural Fairgrounds, located south of Highland Street between Sever Street and Russell Street in Worcester, Massachusetts.
In 1879, Worcester played in the minor league National Association. The National League was interested in Worcester as a potential replacement for the failed Syracuse Stars franchise primarily based on the performance of their ace pitcher, Lee Richmond, who pitched several exhibition games against National League opponents and went 6–2. He also pitched and won one game for the Boston Red Stockings. To admit Worcester to the National League, the league's board of directors waived the requirement that league cities have a population of at least 75,000 (Worcester's population was 58,000). To raise the capital to support their entry into the major leagues, the team sold shares for $35 (with the price including a season ticket), sponsored a walking race that attracted 3,000 people, arranged for discount packages of train fare and baseball tickets for fans from outside the city, and held benefit concerts and dramatic performances.
In December 1879, Worcester became the first professional baseball team to visit Cuba. The trip was a financial failure, as they were only able to play two games against Cuban teams.
On June 12, 1880, pitcher Lee Richmond threw the first perfect game in Major League history, against the Cleveland Blues. The team made history again on August 20 of the same year by becoming the first team to be no-hit at home, when Pud Galvin of the Buffalo Bisons defeated them 1-0.
According to Lee Allen, Cincinnati writer and eventual director of the Baseball Hall of Fame, the Worcester club impacted the National League in another way in 1880; it was instrumental in having the Cincinnati Reds expelled from the league after the season, due to violations of the league rules against selling beer at the ballpark. In his 1948 book, The Cincinnati Reds (published by Putnam), Allen took some satisfaction in pointing out that the Reds re-formed in 1882, initially as a member of the American Association, the same year that Worcester's days as a major league franchise, as well as their influence, came to an end.
The Worcester team was dropped from the league following the 1882 season, due to minuscule attendance. Needing an eighth team to balance the schedule, the National League granted an expansion franchise to the Philadelphia Quakers, who later became the Philadelphia Phillies. Many sources, including the Phillies themselves, say that the Worcesters moved to Philadelphia. However, all available evidence suggests there is no direct link between the teams. Significantly, no players from the 1882 Worcester club ended up with the 1883 Quakers.
- Lip Pike, four-time Major League Baseball home run champion
- Lee Richmond, first player to throw a perfect game
- 1880 Worcester Worcesters season
- 1881 Worcester Worcesters season
- 1882 Worcester Worcesters season
- Worcester Worcesters all-time roster
- "Worcester Ruby Legs (1880-1882)". retrosheet.org. Retrieved 2008-09-04.
- Gordon, Robert; Tom Burgoyne (2005). Movin' on Up: Baseball and Philadelphia Then, Now, and Always. B B& A Publishers. p. 43. ISBN 0-9754419-3-0. Retrieved 2008-09-04.
- Foulds, Alan (2005). Boston's ballparks & arenas. University Press of New York. ISBN 1-58465-409-0.
- Healey, Paul; Worcester Historical Museum (photos) (© 2002-05). "Driving Park at Agricultural County Fair Grounds". projectballpark.org. Retrieved 2008-09-04.
- Dewey, Donald; Acocella, Nicholas (2005). Total Ballclubs: The Ultimate Book of Baseball Teams. Wilmington, Delaware: Sport Media Publishing, Inc. pp. 647–648. ISBN 1-894963-37-7.
- Ashwill, Gary (December 22, 2007). "The First American Professional Team to Visit Cuba, 1879". Agate Type. Retrieved May 20, 2012.
- "No Hitters Chronologically". retrosheet.org. Retrieved 2008-09-04.