What’s the most memorable Boston sports moment of the last 20 years? The list is so long fans had trouble parsing it down.
This month, our Book Club is taking a deep dive into the last two decades of Boston sports history with “This Is Our City: Four Teams, Twelve Championships, and How Boston Became the Most Dominant Sports City in the World.” This era was so exceptional for all four of the major sports teams that bringing home a championship started to feel like an expectation, not just a hope.
Author and Boston sports journalism legend Tony Massarotti will join Boston.com sports writer Khari Thompson for Book Club’s first in-person discussion on Nov. 17 at 7 p.m.
Before that event, we asked readers what comes to mind when they think of the last 20 years of Boston sports history and two moments came up repeatedly: the 2004 Red Sox win and the Patriot’s Super Bowl win against the Rams.
“I’m torn between the Pats’ first Super Bowl win over the ‘Greatest Show on Turf’ and the beginning of the Tom Brady era or the Red Sox playoff series. Down 3 games to the Yankees to pull off that upset…AND win the World Series. Both were friggin fabulous,” said Pete Y.
Stephen S. from Saco, Maine was another reader who couldn’t choose just one iconic moment.
“Tied: Gil Santos’ call of Adam Vinatieri’s game-winning kick against the Rams in the Pats’ first Super Bowl and David Ortiz’s home run that spun Tori Hunter over the fence in front of the policeman with his arms up.”
Most readers reminisced about the big titles from recent Red Sox, Patriots, and Bruins history, but for one reader, what makes a great Boston sports moment isn’t just the titles, but how they’re won.
“The 2004 ALCS wasn’t a moment, it was a saga. [Aside from that], my top 5 are these (in chronological order): 1) The Celtics blowing out the Lakers at the garden to win in 2008. 2) Bruins/Leafs game 7 2013. 3) The Slam in the 2013 ALCS. 4) The Butler did it. 5) 28-3.”
To come up with a top 5 list of iconic moments, you have to have a long list of achievements to choose from. With 20 years of championship-winning teams behind them, Boston sports fans found it easy to think of the best games and players. Below, you’ll find a sampling of what they consider to be the city’s best sports moments.
Responses have been lightly edited for length and clarity.
What do you think is the most iconic Boston sports moment of the last 20 years?
‘I have never seen a bigger crowd of people all chanting’
“For me, it was the first live sports event in Boston after the Marathon bombing. It was the Bruins game. Packed house, electric atmosphere, and the most emotional ‘Star-Spangled banner’ I have ever heard. I have never seen a bigger crowd of people all chanting, cheering, and screaming in unison for the same thing. What a night! Then we headed to Mike’s Roast Beef for the obligatory, 2 juniors, mayo-cheese. Legendary.” — Jim P., North Andover
“Zdeno Chara raising The Stanley Cup over his head in Vancouver in June of 2011. It was the Bruins’ first championship in 39 years.” — Bill, Quincy
‘Maybe the best sports moment of the last 120 years’
“Jason Varitek jumping into the arms of Keith Foulke after the final pitch of the 2004 Red Sox World Series win. After 86 years of heartache, countless grown men cried tears of joy at that moment and that image still makes every Boston fan smile.” — Brian H., South Boston
“The Red Sox World Series win in 2004. The ‘curse’ was finally lifted after all those years. NO OTHER event in Boston sports history even comes close!” — Joseph Z., Boston
“2004 Obviously. I was teaching in Alaska, but I never felt more connected to home, to New England, than I did when the Sox broke the curse. The third Super Bowl and cementing of the dynasty and the Patriots’ amazing run make 2004 the most iconic moment in our proud millennium a no-brainer!” — Mike L., Newport, Vt.
“2004 Sox ALCS. Down 3-0? Win 4 straight? Maybe the best sports moment of the last 120 years.” — Mike G., Cape Cod
“Anyone who says anything but the 2004 World Series victory can’t be from Boston. It stands above all other moments from the last 20 years as good as the last 20 years were because it’s really the culmination of decades and decades of hope all wrapped into one perfect day in October 2004.” — Daniel A.
“Big Papi’s 8th inning grand slam in the 2013 playoffs, to tie the game. Seeing the dugout cop cheer in celebration. It perfectly sums Boston’s strength that year.” — Anonymous
‘It paved the way for the next 20 years of winning’
“Patriots win their first Super Bowl against the Rams. Brady marches the team downfield for the winning field goal! They were big underdogs and Brady was a young untested QB. Spellbinding and unexpected.” — Mitch G., Newtonville
“The New England Patriots’ comeback victory against the Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl LI… ATL: 28, NE: 3, QTR: 3, time remaining: 2:12! Enough said!” — Anonymous
“The most iconic sports moment in the last 20 years was the Vinatieri kick in the Snow Bowl game vs. the Raiders. It was an improbable win that undoubtedly took some good luck to pull out. Prior to that, Bostonians weren’t used to winning games like that. In my opinion, it paved the way for the next 20 years of winning. You could make the argument that it changed the mindset of Boston fans everywhere who were used to being the ‘lovable losers’ who always came close but ended up losing in heartbreaking fashion. If you believe in things like positive energy impacting games, it gave a whole region reason to believe that we could win close games and we could come out on top despite the odds. That believability eventually gave way to the expectation of winning. And it’s been that expectation that has put pressure on all Boston teams to field winning teams or else become irrelevant in this area.” — Rian M., Burlington
Boston.com occasionally interacts with readers by conducting informal polls and surveys. These results should be read as an unscientific gauge of readers’ opinion.