Anchors away: Worcester’s ABA basketball team has new name, home court

In hopes of solidifying a permanent home in Worcester, the city’s lone professional basketball team is making major changes to its branding by paying homage to an infamous winter storm and partnering with a celebrated nonprofit for a true home court advantage.

Known as the New England Anchors during its tenuous first year (2016-17) in the revamped ABA basketball league, the team will re-introduce itself next season as the Worcester 78’s — a tribute to the Blizzard of ’78 — in an attempt to make a nostalgic connection across the region while also better defining, team officials believe, its market for supporters and fans.

“It didn’t make a lot of sense to have a New England-based brand without any real ties to Worcester where we play,” owner and president Tom Marino said in a recent interview. “With this change, we are sending the message that we are here and we aren’t planning on going anywhere.”

For Nick Johnson, his summer on Cape Cod is all business

Worcester native Nick Johnson has big-league dreams, so the soon-to-be 22-year-old is taking the next step in order to further his baseball career.

Johnson, a rising senior at the University of Rhode Island, has climbed to the highest rung on the summer ball circuit, pitching in the Cape Cod Baseball League for the Bourne Braves.

“It’s definitely a privilege to be down here,” Johnson said last week in an interview at Wareham’s Spillane Field. “Growing up, I used to come down here and watch these guys play. It was always a goal of mine to be here.”

There were 297 former Cape League players in Major League Baseball organizations last season, including slick-fielding Red Sox outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr., ace Chris Sale and other stars such as Aaron Judge and Buster Posey.

More Sun Sports: Rich Gedman still pitching in for Red Sox

Sun Spots with Hitch [Vol. 178]: In Worcester, everybody’s doing the PawSox dance

Is it just a dream? Could it be real?!

It seems that whenever the prospect of wooing the Red Sox’ top minor-league affiliate to the city resurfaces, business leaders, residents and municipal officials become moths to the proverbial flame.

More Hitch | What if … Worcester | Free to Read

The T&G even gave the speculation-driven story blanket coverage last week with several pieces devoted to the topic.

We don’t think they’ll mind if Hitch cuts in.

Related: Rich Gedman still pitching in for Red Sox at Pawtucket

Inbox [July 9-15]: News and notes from Railers HC, U.S. Navy, WPI, Assumption, Clark and African Community Education

Have news you or your group would like to share? Let us know by emailing it to info@worcester.ma. Be sure to include a link to the full release on your site or Facebook page so we can include it and send Sun members your way.

Railers games to be broadcast on 98.9-FM

The Worcester Railers Hockey Club games will be broadcast on 98.9-FM NASH ICON for the 2017-18 and the 2018-19 seasons.

All 72 regular-season games will be broadcast live on 98.9 and streamed live on www.nashicon989.com and through www.RailersHC.com. Each broadcast will include a 30-minute pregame show.

Eric Lindquist, Railers play-by-play voice and vice president of communications and marketing, returns for his ninth season of calling professional hockey in Worcester.

Worcester man ‘Makin’ the most of Navy time

Football star Kevin Mensah runs for the border, chooses UConn

Kevin Mensah, the former Holy Name football and track star whose transfer to another school last fall caused a stir and put his gridiron goals in jeopardy, announced on Twitter June 17 that he has committed to play Division I football at the University of Connecticut.

“This past year has been WILD with trying to be eligible to play football and trying to find the right class[es],” he wrote in a phone message posted to Twitter Friday evening. “I would love to announce that I will be committing and attending the University of Connecticut this fall to play football and to continue my education. Can’t wait to be a Husky!”

Worcester Weekly: Lombardi Trophy, Stand Down for vets + more, June 11-17

The most fun you’ll have with a calendar of events all week. And you just might learn something, too.

Professional sports

Monday, June 12 — Worcester Bravehearts vs. North Shore Navigators, 7:05 p.m., Hanover Insurance Park at Fitton Field, 1 College St.  Outfielder Joe Caico of Hopedale, back for his second season with the Bravehearts, got off to a fine start at the plate, hitting .346 (9-of-26) with 2 home runs and 6 RBI (not to mention 9 runs and 3 doubles) as the team won five of its first seven games.

Courtesy Jaime Flores Photography

The Bravehearts are off to a 5-2 start in 2017.

Meanwhile, relief ace Cody Lawyerson, from University of Maine, has struck out 11 and walked but 1 in 5-2/3 innings of work over three appearances. Kevin Kirley of Clinton and Nichols College is a pitcher for the Navigators, who lost their first six games of the season, including a 9-3 drubbing by the Bravehearts Friday night. Tickets start at $6.

Cutting to the chase: Ronnie Caldwell, barber to the Patriots, plans to open shop in Worcester

From the gridiron of Gillette Stadium to the bright lights of Hollywood, master barber Ronnie Caldwell Jr. is building a who’s who clientele from coast to coast, and that global success has led to local ambition with plans in the works to open a barbershop at the corner of Suffolk and Franklin streets.

Caldwell, born and raised in Worcester, is the personal barber to New England Patriots offseason acquisition wide receiver Brandin Cooks, actor Brandon T. Jackson (known for “Tropic Thunder” and “Percy Jackson”), and Washington Redskins offensive lineman Tyler Catalina, a Wachusett Regional High School graduate.

Caldwell’s glitzy list of customers includes Patriots backup quarterback Jacoby Brissett and cornerback Stephon Gilmore, who signed a $65 million contract to join the team in March, as well as social media sensation (and former college football player) Landon Moss, and professional baseball player Chris Colabello, a former Assumption College standout and longtime Worcester Tornado.

Courtesy Ronnie Caldwell Jr.

Stephon Gilmore, one of the newest New England Patriots, quickly connected with Caldwell.

So how did Caldwell land such high-profile clientele?

It all started with a little hot tub eavesdropping.

Inbox [June 4]: News and notes from city of Worcester, EPA, Bravehearts and Worcester State, WPI and Holy Cross

Have news you or your group would like to share? Let us know by emailing it to info@worcester.ma. Be sure to include a link to the full release on your site or Facebook page so we can include it and send Sun members your way.

Augustus, Petty vow to continue battling climate change

Worcester Mayor Joseph M. Petty and City Manager Edward M. Augustus Jr. reaffirmed Worcester’s commitment to battle climate change locally, continue investing in green technology and maintain the city’s place as a leader in clean energy.

Topix.com

Mayor Petty

In the wake of the announcement that the federal government would back out of the Paris Climate Agreement, Petty will join more than 80 mayors across the country in signing onto a U.S. Climate Mayors statement, pledging to “adopt, honor, and uphold the commitments to the goals enshrined in the Paris Agreement. We will intensify efforts to meet each of our cities’ current climate goals, push for new action to meet the 1.5 degrees Celsius target, and work together to create a 21st century clean energy economy.”

The full statement can be found here.

“As our federal government retreats from its responsibility as steward of our environment, it is vitally important for state and municipal governments to uphold our commitment to the future of our planet,” Petty said. “If the president doesn’t want to do it, we will.”

Worcester Weekly: Bravehearts are back, veggies on the Common + more as May turns to June

The most fun you’ll have with a calendar of events all week. And you just might learn something, too. 

Nature | Holiday

Monday, May 29 — Memorial Day Free Entry for Military and Veterans, 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Tower Hill Botanic Garden, 11 French Drive, Boylston  Everyone loves a parade, right?! Wrong. Just like clowns, apple pie and HBO, there are always some wayward folks out there who refuse to get with the program. So, if you’re not into watching 80-year-olds trudging to the haphazard beats of high school marching bands — and because of this idiosyncrasy you’ve received no cookout invitations — consider a quick road trip to explore the lush landscapes and serene surroundings of Tower Hill.

All active military and veterans with valid IDs will be admitted for free. Up to five family members with valid military dependent IDs will receive 20 percent off their admission ($12 adults, $8 seniors, $4 kids 6 and up).

For more information

Outdoors

Tuesday, May 30 — Cycling Exhibit and Repair Station unveiling, 11 a.m., Blackstone River Bikeway, 1265 Millbury St.  When complete the Blackstone River Bikeway will span 48 miles and connect cyclists from Worcester to Providence. It will also connect them with nature and history — but you know those folks; they’re just in it for the cool helmets and spandex shorts.