1986. Reagan was bombing Libya, Chernobyl was melting down and Cagney and Lacey were cleaning up at the Emmy Awards. The Challenger tragedy shocked the nation, Oprah and Nintendo became household names and “We Are The World” was the Grammy favorite. Haley’s Comet made an appearance, FOX was born and people joined “Hands Across America.” The Voyager 2 was sending photos to Earth as it passed Uranus (Heehee, he said Uranus). OK, let me get to the point… 1986 was also one of the greatest years for a sports city. And that city was Boston.
The Patriots: After an incredible playoff run, the Patriots went to their first Superbowl. The result sucked, getting whipped 46-10 by the “Superbowl Shuffle” Chicago Bears and Jim McMahon. Nevertheless, Steve Grogan and Andre Tippet and Nellie and Stanley Morgan and Irving Fryar and all the rest were a great team to watch.
The Celtics: The Green had a lot of ups and downs in ’86. They won the NBA Championship, defeating the Houston Rockets and the Twin Towers in six games. It would be their last title to date. Bird, McHale, Parish, DJ and Ainge, with Walton as the 6th man. One of the greatest teams ever. On top of winning the title, Red (Auerbach, not our Red) pulled out another leprechaun and landed the second pick in the draft. Sadly, Len Bias would die shortly after of a drug overdose.
The Red Sox: The season started with a flare. A young flamethrower named Roger Clemens broke the MLB strikeout record by fanning 20 Mariners. Six months later, Dave Henderson gave a lesson in faith with one of the most memorable “I remember where I was when it happened” homeruns in post-season history. That particular subplot had a bad ending, with Donnie Moore, the pitcher who gave up the shot, later committing suicide. The Sox went on to face the Mets, and the rest lives in Red Sox infamy.
Until 2004, that was the greatest sports season in Boston history. Sometimes it seems like just yesterday, sometimes it seems like forever ago. I remember telling my brothers during the NBA finals to start watching the Sox ’cause that was the year. And I was only off by one out. Maybe I’m cracking, or at least overly optimistic, but I’m starting to get a good feeling about the 2006 club. And we’re one day closer to it.