Only someone as humble as Celtics legend and Holy Cross alum Bob Cousy would feel the need to introduce himself at a baseball game in Worcester.

Before the Worcester Red Sox' first ever game in the brand new Polar Park, the team had a who's who of local and state celebrities out to christen the club's new home. Gov. Charlie Baker and Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito threw out ceremonial pitches alongside Red Sox legend Pedro Martinez. Singer-songwriter James Taylor and his son, Henry, sang the national anthem.

But it was the 92-year old Cousy, who joked that only those who have been getting their Social Security checks would recognize him, who had the final word.

"I've never seen an event, I was saying a moment ago, electrify a city the way this event has — and hopefully it will have long legs," he told the crowd. "So with all that said, play ball!"

Those last two words were something the city of Worcester has been waiting a long time to hear. Tuesday's game between the WooSox and the Syracuse Mets felt less like a normal Triple-A game and more like a celebration of the team's first homecoming in an 8-5 victory for Worcester.

For Worcester, the game was decades in the making for a city that has deep ties to the game's history. Worcester is where baseball's first ever perfect game is said to have been thrown and where Ted Williams hit his first homer with the Boston Red Sox during an exhibition against Holy Cross.

The historic nature of the day was evident talking to fans, some of whom made their way to the park hours before the first pitch.

Ryan Kuketz was born and raised in Worcester. He's a season-ticket holder and got tickets about a year ago that ran about $700. He grew up watching the Worcester Tornadoes, a pro team that played in a league unaffiliated with Major League Baseball, which meant it didn't come with all the bells and whistles of a minor league team. But the WooSox, who are in their first season in central Mass after moving from Pawtucket, are a whole other show.

"Now it's like the whole city has kind of rallied around this team and stadium, and I think we're all pretty excited," he said.

Judy Keenan is orignally from Worcester and now lives in Millbury. She and her husband are season ticket holders, which helped to alleviate the headaches she saw from others who were trying to snag last minute tickets.

"There's people coming from all over," she said. "I heard somebody outside driving by in a car saying they're from out of town and they really want to get tickets for the game today. I don't think anybody had tickets though."

Keenan was especially excited about the business Polar Park would be bringing to the city. She said that at the Worcester Public Market, which is just down the street from the ballpark, vendors were raving pre-game about the foot traffic from shoppers.

That business boost is part of what city leaders hope to see more of in the future from the team and Polar Park. Tim Murray, president and CEO of the Worcester Regional Chamber Of Commerce, told GBH News the day before the game that the park is adding to an environment that he hopes will attract hundreds of thousands of new visitors a year.

That sort of potential revenue is especially important as the state continues to loosen COVID-19 restrictions and start its climb back to something like normal.

"The ability to gather and celebrate and be with friends and family is something that people are gonna look to," he said. "And with the ballpark being open, Worcester, central Massachusetts, can be a great day trip destination — a place for families and individuals who want to watch some great baseball but also experience what is a phenomenal ballpark that is just really user, family friendly."

As exhilirating as the day was, the pandemic still loomed over the festivities. Only about 2,500 spectators got in under the state's 25% capacity limit. Masks were required, and hand sanitizer stations seemed to be around every corner. Zip ties locked up seats cordoned off to enforce social distancing among fans.

But baseball has a certain energy that not even a pandemic can dull. The fresh cut grass, the crisp white baselines, the overpriced hamburgers and hot dogs — they're as sure a sign as any that an American summer is just around the corner.

For WooSox manager Billy McMillon, the spirit in the stands was palpable as the team pulled out a victory over Syracuse in Polar Park's maiden voyage, on a historic day for the team and its new town.

"It's really nice to see a lot of people in the stands. Seems like it was more than 25%," he quipped after the game. "But you know, a lot of buzz, lot of excitement in the air, and it was really cool to open up the stadium for the WooSox and to get a W."