As a Massachusetts native who has never lived more than 40 minutes outside of Boston, I have attended my fair share of Boston marathons. I fondly remember visiting my grandma’s house in Natick, where my brother and I would load up on orange slices, plastic cups and H2O. Then we’d walk over to the route, take up our spots along the side of the road, and hand out refreshments to the stream of marathoners stampeding by.
These memories came flooding back to me while I was at the marathon the other day, cheering on my friends and thousands of strangers. We were between mile 24 and 25, jumping and screaming and cheering for everyone representing the Tufts name (and many who weren’t). It was a blast, crummy weather notwithstanding.
As I watched thousands of soaked runners trek towards the finish line, I was reminded of what an extraordinary experience Marathon Monday is. Inspirational doesn’t even begin to describe what it’s like to see people from all walks of life achieve something they’ve worked so hard for. If you’ve never been, I highly recommend it.
So in honor of them, here are the 10 Boston sports moments from my lifetime that most epitomize what it means to be Boston Strong. To spare myself hours of deliberation, I have ranked them in chronological order:
1. Game 5, 1999 ALDS: After suffering a back strain in Game 1, Pedro Martinez comes out of the bullpen and pitches six no-hit innings against a juggernaut Indians lineup while relying almost exclusively on his curveball.
2. 2000-2001 NBA season: Paul Pierce plays all 82 games — the only Celtics player to do so — despite being stabbed 11 times at a night club one month before the season started. The 23-year-old enjoys his best season to date despite nearly being stabbed in the heart and undergoing lung surgery.
3. Super Bowl XXXVI: Adam Vinatieri, who also had a game-tying 45-yard field goal in that year’s AFC Divisional game, clinches New England’s first Super Bowl victory with a 48-yard game-winning field goal as time expires. Two years later, he kicks another game-winning field goal in Super Bowl XXXVIII, this one a 41-yarder with four seconds left.
4. 2004 ALCS: Too many to count. There was David Ortiz delivering extra-inning walkoff hits on consecutive nights, Curt Schilling gutting through seven innings in Game 6 with blood oozing from his ankle, and Boston becoming the first MLB team to win a postseason series after losing the first three games.
5. Game 7, 2007 ALCS: Coco Crisp makes a spectacular catch for the final out, holding onto the ball after crashing into the center field wall. Boston was up nine runs at the time, making Crisp’s effort even more commendable.
6. Game 4, 2007 World Series: 11 months after being pronounced cancer-free, 23 year-old Jon Lester starts and wins the deciding game of the World Series. The following May, he becomes the first Sox lefty to throw a no-hitter since 1956.
7. Game 1, 2008 NBA Finals: Paul Pierce leaves his first NBA finals game in a wheelchair, only to return minutes later and drill back-to-back three-pointers to key Boston’s victory over the Los Angeles Lakers.
8. Game 4, 2008 NBA Finals: The Celtics overcome a 24-point deficit to top the Lakers 97-91, becoming the first team to win a Finals game after trailing by 15 or more at the end of the first quarter.
9. Super Bowl XLIX: Julian Edelman withstands a vicious helmet-to-helmet hit from Kim Chancellor, making several crucial catches including the go-ahead, Super Bowl-winning touchdown.
10. April 20, 2015: 26,610 brave souls run 26.2 miles in the freezing cold and pouring rain. The weather was truly miserable. I don’t know how you all did it.