In the spirit of March brackets, Boston.com launched its own: Voting to decide who is Boston’s greatest-ever athlete. The #GOATMadness bracket carries a full 64-person field, so go vote.
Trying to pick the 64 greatest athletes in Boston sports history requires some difficult choices. So when it came time to create the field for Boston.com’s #GOATMadness bracket, we knew a few worthy names would ultimately miss the cut. Just as choosing Boston’s GOAT involves an element of subjectivity, so, too, does narrowing down the field.
Sure, names like Manny Ramirez and Ali Raisman are easy to land on. But Bill Sharman over Dave Cowens? Milt Schmidt instead of Zdeno Chára? That’s where some of our heated debates have already ensued.
Here’s a look at a few of the athletes who were the “first out,” to borrow a term from the NCAA Tournament. And if you think we missed someone who isn’t listed here or on our bracket, call us out in the comments below.
Though he died tragically at the age of 26, Agganis had already achieved more than most athletes do in their entire careers. A local legend at the high school and college levels, he turned down a chance to join the Cleveland Browns so he could play for the Red Sox.
Having arrived in Boston as a free agent signing in 2006, Chara has become a fixture in Boston sports. With his imposing size and prodigious skill, the Slovakian defenseman anchored the Bruins’ first Stanley Cup-winning team in 39 years.
In his decade with the Celtics, Cowens was an NBA All-Star eight times. He won league MVP in 1973, and helped guide Boston to two championships in the post-Bill Russell years.
Fisk, a New Hampshire native, won Rookie of the Year with the Red Sox in 1972. He was a seven-time All-Star in Boston as a catcher and hit one of the truly iconic home runs in baseball history at Fenway Park to win Game 6 of the 1975 World Series.
A dominant midfielder for the Revolution, Joseph played in New England from 2003-2012. He helped the Revs reach three straight MLS Cup finals and was named in the MLS Best XI four times.
Lobo helped to establish the University of Connecticut as a powerhouse in college basketball. A member of the undefeated 1995 UConn team, the Southwick native was named Naismith College Player of the Year and won a national championship. Lobo also helped Team USA win gold at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.
One of the superstars of lacrosse, Rabil has been a standout at all levels, including winning two national championships at Johns Hopkins. He was drafted first overall by the Boston Cannons in 2008 and helped the team win the 2011 Steinfeld Cup. Rabil also won Major League Lacrosse Offensive Player of the Year three times during his years in Boston.
Vinatieri signed with the Patriots in 1996 as an undrafted free agent and stayed in New England for a decade. He was a central part of the team’s first three Super Bowl wins, kicking clutch field goals in each of the team’s postseason runs.