Picking your favorite Boston sports moment may be more difficult than picking your favorite child, but we here at NESN.com are going to take a different angle on some of Boston’s top sports memories.
Below are some little-known facts about the remaining 32 moments in Boston’s Greatest Sports Moment tournament.
1. Red Sox snap curse
The 2004 Red Sox truly were a team of destiny. They led the majors with 949 runs scored and were third with a 4.18 team ERA. However, several important pieces either never played in the majors again (Pokey Reese, Curtis Leskanic) or never performed at a high level again and were out of the league within a couple of years (Keith Foulke, Mark Bellhorn, Dave McCarty).
2. Flutie’s Hail Mary
Doug Flutie linked up with Gerard Phelan on the famous play. While Flutie captured the headlines (and deservedly so), fans tend to forget that Phelan had 11 receptions for 226 yards and two touchdowns. Phelan went on to earn All-East and All-America honors as a senior and was even drafted by the Patriots 108th overall in 1985, but a serious knee injury prematurely ended his professional playing career.
4. Marciano goes 49-0
Because a ring announcer in Providence, R.I., couldn’t pronounce Rocky’s birth name: “Marchegiano,” the boxer decided to change the spelling to “Marciano.” In fact, Marciano’s handler, Al Weill, came up with the idea to give him the nickname “Rocky Mack,” but Marciano didn’t like it.
5. Law’s Super pick
Ty Law is one of nine players with a pick-six in Super Bowl history. Dwight Smith (Tampa Bay vs. Oakland, twice in Super Bowl XXXVII), Herb Adderley, (Green Bay vs. Oakland, Super Bowl II), Willie Brown (Oakland vs. Minnesota (Super Bowl XI), Jack Squirek (L.A. Raiders vs. Washington, Super Bowl XVIII, Reggie Phillips (Chicago vs. New England, Super Bowl XX), Duane Starks (Baltimore vs. N.Y. Giants, Super Bowl XXXV), Derrick Brooks (Tampa Bay vs. Oakland, Super Bowl XXXVII) and Kelvin Hayden (Indianapolis vs. Chicago, Super Bowl XLI) are the others.
6. Espo given No. 7
What many people don’t remember about Phil Esposito is that when he was shipped from Boston to New York, he couldn’t wear No. 7. That number was already retired for future Hall of Famer Rod Gilbert. Espo wore No. 12 for a brief period before switching to No. 77 for five seasons. Perhaps that’s where Ray Bourque got the idea for a similar jersey adjustment.
8. Russell’s 30-40 in 1962
To help put the dominance of Bill Russell‘s 40-rebound game in perspective, consider the Celtics of 2008. In the six-game Finals against the Lakers, Kevin Garnett led the C’s in rebounding every single game. His highest total? That would be 14 — or 35 percent of what Russell had in that fateful Game 7. As a team, the ’08 Celtics only topped 40 collective rebounds twice all series.
10. Ryder’s glove save
Michael Ryder knows how to bury goals, too. He leads all Newfoundland-born players in career goals with 162, to go with that clutch save. Detroit’s Daniel Cleary is second with 139 while goalie Doug Grant, who played in the 1970s with Detroit and St. Louis, leads all Newfoundland native netminders with 27 career wins.
14. Rice to rescue
Jim Rice hopping into the stands to grab a bleeding, injured boy and carry him to safety is one of those moments that was so small yet so huge. If it weren’t for one photographer, however, the story might not have survived all these years. With no video available of Rice’s actions, there is just one iconic photo, taken by Boston Herald photographer Ted Gartland, that tells the story of Rice’s heroic and prompt action.
1. Pats win SB XXXVI
In the first Super Bowl following the 9/11 attacks, Mariah Carey, accompanied by the Boston Pops Orchestra, performed the national anthem and George H. W. Bush became the first president, past or present, to participate in a Super Bowl coin toss in person. Also, the Super Bowl XXXVI logo was changed from a New Orleans-themed logo to one reflecting American pride.
2. Bruins win 2011 Stanley Cup
Boston fans have celebrated many championships, but lately their teams haven’t been able to celebrate with them. The Bruins’ Stanley Cup title was the sixth of Boston’s seven championships since 2002 that was clinched outside of New England. Only the 2007-08 Celtics clinched the championship on their home court.
3. Tuck Rule
The tuck rule play was deemed an incomplete pass. Had it been a fumble, the Raiders would have recovered. But few forget that the Raiders actually forced three New England fumbles in the snow that night, none of which they were able to recover.
4. Big Papi Game 4 walk-off
Most fans recall that after David Ortiz’s walk-off in Game 4, the Red Sox never lost again, finishing the 2004 postseason with eight straight victories. What’s less known is that the Red Sox trailed only once — briefly, when the Yankees took a 4-2 lead in the sixth inning of Game 5 — in any of those games the rest of the postseason.
6. Impossible Dream
Red Sox fans likely remember Clay Buchholz throwing a no-hitter in his second career appearance in 2007. But on April 14, 1967, rookie pitcher Billy Rohr nearly accomplished the feat in his first major league appearance. Rohr had a no-hitter going with two outs in the ninth inning at Yankee Stadium before Elston Howard, who became a member of the Red Sox later on that season, broke up the bid with a single.
7. Steal by Bird
An ill-advised play by Larry Bird directly before the steal made Bird’s heroics necessary. Bird drove on four Pistons defenders and had his shot blocked. Jerry Sichting was unable to save the ball from going out of bounds, giving the Pistons possession on the sideline.
8. Orr’s No. 4 retired
Bobby Orr was actually assigned No. 27 in 1966, and even wore it for a few exhibition games, but quickly changed to his legendary No. 4. Six Bruins wore No. 27 that season, as Nick Beverley, Ron Buchanan, J.P. Parise, Derek Sanderson and Barry Wilkins all shared it. Albert Langlois was the last player before Orr to wear No. 4, as he wore the legendary sweater for 65 games during the 1965-66 season. Bob Armstrong wore it the longest, from 1951-62.
12. Thomas’ stick save
Tim Thomas’ stick save on Steve Downie was a great moment in Boston, but the rest of the country took notice, too. FoxNews, Huffington Post and The Baltimore Sun were just a few of the major news organizations that made mention of “The Save.”
1. Bobby Orr’s goal
Orr’s goal may have won the series for the Bruins, but they probably would have taken the series without the iconic goal. The B’s outscored the Blues by a combined score of 16-4 in Games 1-3 before Orr’s game-winner in overtime of Game 4 won Boston the Stanley Cup.
2. Fisk waves ball fair
The NBC cameraman inside the Green Monster who caught the iconic shot of Fisk jumping and waving the ball fair was unable to follow the ball’s flight after he was distracted by a rat inside the Monster prior to the pitch. Because of that, he had to focus just on Fisk, setting up one of the greatest sports scenes ever.
4. Russell’s final title
The balloons that Lakers owner Jack Kent Cooke famously stored in the rafters in case of a Lakers Game 7 win that never came wound up being donated to a children’s hospital. Cooke would say “the kids had a great time with them. Certainly a better time than I did.”
5. Curt’s bloody sock
Curt Schilling offered $1 million to anyone who could prove that the blood on his sock wasn’t real after some questioned whether or not the blood was fake.
6. Williams at All-Star Game
While Fenway Park was home to the ’99 All-Star Game, it was originally slated to take place in Milwaukee. However, with Miller Park’s opening delayed until 2001, Fenway was the replacement host. Most remember that Pedro Martinez started the game for the American League and earned MVP honors, but it was future Red Sox hurler Curt Schilling who started for the National League and took the loss.
7. Damon’s slam
The Yankees brought in Bucky Dent to throw out the first pitch of Game 7 of the 2004 ALCS.
9. Nathan Horton’s goal
Nathan Horton’s wife, Tammy Plante, is great-niece of Hall of Famer goaltender Jacques Plante. Horton and Tammy both hail from Welland, Ontario.
14. Neely nets 50 in 40
Only Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux and Brett Hull have had better goals-per-game averages over the course of an NHL season than when Neely netted 50 goals in 44 games in 1993-94. Only Gretzky has scored 50 goals in fewer games, as he netted 50 through 39 games during the 1981-82 season and through 42 games in 1983-84. Lemieux scored 50 goals in 44 games in 1988-89.
2. Roberts steals second
Arguably the most iconic moment of the Red Sox’ World Series run in 2004 almost never had the chance to happen. The story says third base coach Dale Sveum called for Bill Mueller to sacrifice bunt. Dave Roberts, however, wanted to steal, and told first base coach Lynn Jones to cancel the bunt call. You know the rest.
3. Havlicek steals ball
Everyone knows that Havlicek stole the ball — everyone but the official statistician, that is. Steals were not kept as stats in the NBA until 1973, a full eight years after Havlicek made his famous theft. Thanks to broadcaster Johnny Most, the steal lives on in history.
4. Pedro’s ’99 relief
The three-run home run by Troy O’Leary which gave the Red Sox the lead for good in Game 5 of the 1999 ALDS capped a seventh-inning dominance for the Red Sox in which they outscored the Indians 12-1 over the course of the series.
6. Varitek, A-Rod brawl
The Yankees took a commanding 9-4 lead into the bottom of the sixth inning after a six-run rally in the top half of the inning, all started by a single by Enrique Wilson — who was in the game as a result of Alex Rodriguez‘s ejection.
9. Vinatieri in snow
Adam Vinatieri’s family has quite the history. Not only is the former Patriots and current Colts kicker a third cousin of daredevil Evel Knievel, but his great-great grandfather, Felix Vinatieri, served as Lt. Col. George Custer’s band leader. Felix, an Italian immigrant, missed out on Little Big Horn, though, after Custer left him and his 16-member brass band on a Powder River supply boat before succumbing to Crazy Horse.
10. Drew’s grand slam
J.D. Drew famously sent a 3-1 pitch from Fausto Carmona into the center-field bleachers in the first inning of Game 6 of the 2007 ALCS, but that’s about the only bit of success Drew has had against Carmona. He went 0-for-5 against Carmona before that grand slam. He then hit an RBI single against him two innings later, but he’s gone 1-for-11 with one walk and one strikeout against Carmona since then.
12. Pats SB team intro
Bill Belichick‘s request that the Patriots be introduced as a team was originally shut down by the NFL, but the head coach lobbied with the league until the decision was changed.
16. Milbury’s attack
The Mike Milbury shoe attack led to three players being suspended, lawsuits and the installation of higher glass in hockey arenas. Milbury and teammate Peter McNab were each suspended for six games, while Terry O’Reilly was suspended for eight games. They were each fined $500, and the rest of the Bruins, except for Gerry Cheevers, were fined up to $500.
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