Boston, the capital city of the U.S. state of Massachusetts and largest city in New England, is home to several major league sports teams. They include the Red Sox (baseball), the Celtics (basketball, in the state where the sport was invented), and the Bruins (ice hockey). The New England Patriots (American football) and the New England Revolution (soccer) play at Gillette Stadium in nearby Foxborough. The New England Free Jacks (Rugby union) play at Union Point Sports Complex in nearby Weymouth. Several Boston-area colleges and universities are also active in college athletics.
Sports are a major part of the city’s culture (as well as the culture of the Greater Boston area). Boston sports fans are known for their fanatical devotion to the Red Sox and knowledge of the team’s history. However, in recent memory Boston is now known as a football town, as the Patriots have long seized the title as the most popular team in New England. Fenway Park, home of the Red Sox, is the oldest ballpark in Major League Baseball (MLB) and holds a legendary status among baseball fans. Within the same era, what is now the world’s oldest existing indoor multi-sports facility – today’s Matthews Arena, primarily used by Northeastern University’s college sports teams – first opened in 1910, only some 400 meters (1/4 mile) away from the original home field of the Red Sox – and is where on December 1, 1924, the Boston Bruins played their first NHL regular season game.
The Greater Boston region is the only city/surrounding area in American professional sports in which all facilities are privately owned and operated. The Patriots own Gillette Stadium, the Red Sox own Fenway Park, and TD Garden is owned by Delaware North, owner of the Bruins. The Celtics rent TD Garden from Delaware North.
|Boston Red Sox||MLB||Baseball||Fenway Park (37,500)||1901||9 World Series|
|Boston Bruins||NHL||Hockey||TD Garden (17,565)||1924||6 Stanley Cups|
|Boston Celtics||NBA||Basketball||TD Garden (18,625)||1946||17 NBA Finals|
|New England Patriots||NFL||Football||Gillette Stadium (68,750)||1960||6 Super Bowls|
|New England Revolution||MLS||Soccer||1995|
|Boston Braves||MLB||Baseball||Braves Field (40,000)||1871||1952||1 World Series; 1 pre-World Series|
|Boston Redskins||NFL||Football||Fenway Park (35,000)||1932||1936|
In the 2000s, Boston’s professional teams had what was argued to be the most successful decade in sports history, winning six championships (three by the Patriots, two by the Red Sox, and one by the Celtics), while also appearing an additional five times as league finalists (four by the Revolution, one by the Patriots).
In the 2010s, their professional teams rivaled their 2000s achievements, winning six additional championships (three by the Patriots, two by the Red Sox, and one by the Bruins), while also appearing an additional six times as league finalists (two by the Patriots, two by the Bruins, one by the Celtics, and one by the Revolution).
When the Bruins won the 2011 Stanley Cup Finals, the city of Boston became the first city in the 21st century to have all four of its major professional league teams win a league championship, and became the only city to ever have championships in all four major professional leagues within a ten-year span, accomplishing this feat in a span of six years, four months, and nine days (from the Patriots’ championship win on February 6, 2005 to the Bruins’ championship win on June 15, 2011). This sporting achievement was what Dan Shaughnessy of Sports Illustrated dubbed as Boston completing the “Grand Slam of North American sports.”
The Bruins reaching the 2011 Stanley Cup Finals also allowed Boston to join Philadelphia and Los Angeles as being the only cities to have had all of their teams play in each of the four major North American professional sports leagues’ title rounds since 2000. In addition, Boston beat out Philadelphia for playing in all of the “big” league championship rounds in the shortest time in the new millennium by doing so within a span of three years, seven months, and four days (from the Red Sox’s World Series win on October 28, 2007, to the Bruins playing Game 1 of the 2011 Stanley Cup Finals on June 1, 2011); it took nine years for Philadelphia to achieve this in contrast. However, Philadelphia holds the all-time record for achieving this feat, having set the record much earlier between 1980 and 1981 when all four major league teams played in their respective championship games within an eight month span. When the Bruins reached the 2013 Stanley Cup Finals, Boston became the only city to have had all of their major league teams play in their leagues’ championship title rounds two times or more this century.
Since 2002, DUKWs (aka “duck boats”) provided by Boston Duck Tours have been used as Boston’s championship parade vehicles, starting with the New England Patriots after the Patriots won Super Bowl XXXVI over the St. Louis Rams. As a result of this recent practice, the catch phrase “cue the duck boats” has been utilized whenever a Boston sports team has won a championship in advance of its celebratory parade.While much of the parade routes over the years consisted of the duck boats staying on land, some featured them traversing both the land and across the Charles River.
The list of Celtics who are members of the Basketball Hall of Fame include, among others, Bill Russell, Bob Cousy, John Havlicek, Dave Cowens, Larry Bird, Sam Jones, Nate Archibald, original owner Walter Brown, and longtime coach and team president Red Auerbach, who worked for the team until his death in 2006 at age 89. Longtime announcer Johnny Most was also honored by the Basketball Hall of Fame as a recipient of the Curt Gowdy Media Award. After finishing with a record of 24–58 in 2006–07, the team acquired Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett from the Seattle SuperSonics and Minnesota Timberwolves, respectively, to aid longtime Celtics star Paul Pierce make up one of the best defensive and offensive lineups in NBA history. With help of up-and-coming Rajon Rondo, Kendrick Perkins, and head coach Doc Rivers the team once again made history by winning the 2008 NBA Finals and their 17th championship against long-time rivals Los Angeles Lakers.
Such Hall of Fame players as forward Milt Schmidt, and defensemen Eddie Shore, Raymond Bourque and the legendary Bobby Orr have played for the Bruins, as well as the NHL league’s tallest-ever player, Slovakian-born defenseman Zdeno Chára, the current captain of the Bruins. The team has been managed/coached by Hall of Famers such as team founder Charles Adams (namesake of hockey’s old Adams Division), Art Ross (donor and namesake of the NHL’s trophy for annual scoring champion), Walter A. Brown, Schmidt and Harry Sinden. Orr was voted the greatest athlete in Boston history in the Boston Globe newspaper’s poll of New Englanders in 1975, beating out baseball and basketball stars such as Ted Williams, Bill Russell, Carl Yastrzemski and Bob Cousy.
Since their initial meeting on December 8, 1924, the longest-standing rivalry in the NHL is the one between the Bruins and their Canadian archrival, the Montreal Canadiens, as these two teams have met 34 times in the NHL’s Stanley Cup playoffs, with Montreal taking 18-straight playoff series from the Bruins between 1946 and 1987.
Boston’s local colleges also are very strong in hockey. Boston College and Boston University are always competitive and at the top of the college rankings, both competing in the Hockey East conference. In the past ten years, Boston College has won three national championships (2008, 2010 and 2012) and Boston University has won one (2009). BC and BU, along with the Northeastern Huskies, also of Hockey East, and the Harvard Crimson of ECAC Hockey, compete in the Beanpot, considered the most prestigious in-season collegiate hockey tournament. It is played on the first two Mondays of February at TD Garden, with the semifinal matchups rotating on a year-to-year basis.
The Boston Game is thought to be the origin of American football, played by New England prep schools. In 1855, manufactured inflatable balls were introduced. These were much more regular in shape than the handmade balls of earlier times, making kicking and carrying more skillful. Two competing versions had evolved during this time; the “kicking game” which resembled soccer and the “running” or “carrying game” which resembled rugby union. hybrid of the two, known as the “Boston game”, was played by a group known as the Oneida Football Club. The club, considered by some historians as the first formal football club in the United States, was formed in 1861 by schoolboys who played the “Boston game” on Boston Common. They played mostly among themselves early on; though they organized a team of non-members to play a game in November 1863, which the Oneidas won easily. The game caught the attention of the press, and the “Boston game” continued to grow throughout the 1860s.
The first professional NFL franchise in the city was the Boston Bulldogs, who only played a single season (in 1929) since relocating from Pottsville, Pennsylvania.
The Boston Braves were established in 1932, under the ownership of George Preston Marshall. At the time the team played in Braves Field, home of the Boston Braves baseball team in the National League. The following year, the club moved to Fenway Park, home of the American League’s Boston Red Sox, whereupon owners changed the team’s name to “Boston Redskins.” To round out the change, Marshall hired William “Lone Star” Dietz, who was thought to be part Sioux, as the team’s head coach. However, Boston wasn’t much of a football town at the time and the team had difficulty drawing fans. In fact, the 1936 NFL Championship Game was moved to the Polo Grounds in New York City due to apathy and low support in Boston. In 1937, Marshall moved the franchise to Washington, D.C.
In 1944, the Boston Yanks were established (the 3rd NFL franchise in Boston’s history), playing their home games at Fenway Park and competing until 1948. The Yanks are the only officially defunct NFL team ever to have the first overall NFL draft pick. They had it twice, in 1944 and 1946. Both times they selected a quarterback from the University of Notre Dame: Angelo Bertelli (1944) and Frank Dancewicz (1946), both Massachusetts natives. Owner Ted Collins moved his “defunct” Yanks franchise to New York City in 1949, where it continued for one year as the Bulldogs and two years known as the New York Yanks.
In 1959, Boston business executive Billy Sullivan was awarded a franchise (Boston Patriots) in the American Football League (AFL), bringing professional football back to Boston. Throughout the 1960s, the team lacked a permanent home field, playing at Nickerson Field (at the time still known and configured as Braves Field), Fenway Park, Harvard Stadium, and Boston College’s Alumni Stadium. In 1970, the AFL merged with the NFL and the Patriots joined the league. The following year, the franchise was re-named the New England Patriots. From 1971–2002, the team played at Foxboro Stadium in the town of Foxborough, which is located 28 miles (45 km) southwest of Boston. The 2002 season brought the opening of Gillette Stadium, located next door to Foxboro Stadium.
Businessman Robert Kraft, who at the time owned Foxboro Stadium and the team’s lease for it, purchased the team in 1994 for $175 million, ensuring the Patriots would remain in New England amid a shuffle of owners and rumors of a relocation to St. Louis. The team experienced a recent surge of success, mostly with the turn of the century. The Patriots have not had a losing season since 2000, and since then, they only missed the playoffs in the 2002 and 2008 seasons. The team has made 11 Super Bowl appearances and won six of them (XXXVI (2001), XXXVIII (2003), XXXIX (2004), XLIX (2014), LI (2016), LIII (2018)) and became the only team to go 16–0 in the regular season (in 2007) since the NFL expanded to a 16-game schedule in 1978. Notable people among the team include head coach Bill Belichick and star quarterback Tom Brady, who among others would help make the Patriots consistently successful.
In 1862, The Oneida Football Club in Boston was the first organized team to play any kind of “football/soccer” in the United States. It was founded by Gerrit Smith “Gat” Miller, a graduate of the Latin School of Epes Sargent Dixwell, a private college preparatory school in Boston, who grew tired of the chaotic, disorganized, and very violent games that arose from different schools, as well as the rule variations of soccer that existed as a by-product of no formal rules for the game during that era. Miller organized other recent preparatory school graduates from relatively elite public (state) schools in the area, such as Boston Latin School and the English High School of Boston to join this team that played their games at Boston Common. Between 1862–65, playing against other pickup teams within Boston’s collegiate community, the Oneidas never lost a match. Like American football historians, soccer historians trace the origins of their sport in the region to the Oneida Football Club & their brand of football that they played called the “Boston Game”, which was a hybrid of both sports today that featured a rounded ball that could be kicked, carried, & thrown. The Boston game would go on to be introduced to Yale University, Columbia University, Cornell University, & Boston’s Harvard University. This hybrid form of football, that would evolve into what is now American football, would eventually adopt codified rules based primarily on those established for English rugby, gained prominence & acceptance within the college circles, & upper-class status, relegating the uncodified “soccer” variety of the game to working class status, that was adopted by the immigrant communities that brought along their soccer customs & traditions with them to the region.
1967 brought about the birth of nationwide professional soccer featuring two competing leagues. Of the two, Boston only played in the United Soccer Association and was represented by the Boston Rovers, whose roster was composed of players from Shamrock Rovers F.C. from the League of Ireland as well as guest players and played their home matches at the Manning Bowl in Lynn. In 1968, the United Soccer Association and the National Professional Soccer League merged to become the North American Soccer League. Boston was represented that year by the Boston Beacons who played their lone season at Fenway Park. In 1974–76, Boston was represented in the league by the Boston Minutemen who played their home games in various stadiums within Greater Boston: Alumni Stadium, Nickerson Field, Foxboro Stadium, Veterans Memorial Stadium, and Sargent Field. From 1978–80, Greater Boston was represented in the league by the New England Tea Men who played out of Foxboro Stadium. The team would relocate to Jacksonville, Florida after three seasons.
After the NASL folded on March 28, 1985, a new nationwide professional soccer league in would re-emerge in 1996 in the form of Major League Soccer. Greater Boston would be represented by the New England Revolution, who play all their home games in Foxboro. From 1996–2001, the Revolution played at Foxboro Stadium from 1996–2001; Gillette Stadium has served as the Revolution’s current home stadium since 2002.
|Boston Lobsters||WTT||Mixed||Tennis||Ferncroft Country Club||2005||2015||None|
|Boston Demons||USAFL||Men’s||Australian Rules Football||Ipswich River Park||1997||USAFL Premierships (Div. 1): 1998, 1999|
|Boston Cannons||MLL||Men’s||Lacrosse (Outdoor)||Gillette Stadium||2001||1 Steinfeld Cup|
|Boston Breakers||NWSL||Women’s||Soccer||Jordan Field||2001/2009||2018||None|
|Boston Aztec||WPSL||Women’s||Soccer||Amesbury Sports Park||2005||2017||1 WPSL Title|
Boston Derby Dames
|WFTDA||Women’s||Flat track roller derby||Amesbury Sports Park||2005||None|
|Boston Whitecaps||MLU||Ultimate Frisbee||Bowditch Field||2012||2016||2 MLU Championships|
|Boston Pride||NWHL||Women’s||Ice hockey||Warrior Ice Arena||2015||1 Isobel Cup|
|Boston Renegades||WFA||Women’s||American Football||Harry Della Russo Stadium||2015||1 WFA title (2018)|
|Boston Storm||UWLX||Women’s||Lacrosse||“Barnstorming” format||2016||None|
|Boston Uprising||OWL||Mixed||Overwatch||Blizzard Arena||2017||None|
Boston is home to three professional lacrosse teams, including the Boston Cannons of Major League Lacrosse, who play at Harvard University’s Harvard Stadium. The National Lacrosse League team in Boston is the Boston Blazers, who began in the 2009 season and play at the TD Garden. The Boston Storm, who began in the 2016 season, is one of the original four teams of the United Women’s Lacrosse League.
Two different women’s soccer teams known as the Boston Breakers have been charter members of three separate professional leagues. The original version, founded in 2001, played in the short-lived Women’s United Soccer Association. The Breakers were resurrected in 2009 to play in WUSA’s equally short-lived successor, Women’s Professional Soccer (WPS). After WPS folded following its 2011 season, the Breakers remained in operation, playing the 2012 season in the newly established semi-pro WPSL Elite. In December 2012, the Breakers were announced as one of the eight charter teams of the new National Women’s Soccer League, which began play in 2013. While the WUSA and WPS Breakers played at Harvard Stadium, the NWSL team played its first season at the smaller Dilboy Stadium in Somerville. The NWSL Breakers moved to Harvard Stadium for the 2014 season, and then moved to the nearby venue now known as Jordan Field, where they remained until their demise after the 2017 season.
There have been other professional sports teams to play in the city, such as the Boston Beacons and Boston Minutemen of the NASL. Boston’s first all-female flat-track roller derby league, Boston Derby Dames, formed in May 2005. The league is among the original members of the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association.
All except Harvard, which belongs to ECAC Hockey, belong to the Hockey East conference in hockey. The hockey teams of these four universities meet every year in a four-team tournament known as the “Beanpot Tournament”, played at the TD Garden (and the Boston Garden before that) over two Monday nights in February.
The oldest continuously used indoor and outdoor sports stadium in the world are used by Boston schools: Harvard Stadium (built in 1903) and the aforementioned Boston Arena (now known as Matthews Arena, built in 1910), which is used by Northeastern University.
The University of Massachusetts-Amherst, located in the Western part of the state but heavily attended by Bostonians also won a National Championship in Football on 12/19/1998. This date is famous for also being the 21st birthday of esteemed Alumnus, Dave duCille, better known as DJ Cappuccino of The Turntable Sweatshop on the student run radio station 91.1 WMUA.
The city is home to the Head of the Charles Regatta. Longwood Cricket Club (despite its name) is the oldest tennis club in the New World, located in Chestnut Hill. It is the site of the first Davis Cup competition. Boston is the start and finish for the Boston–Montreal–Boston cycling event.
Boston’s TD Garden is expected to host the 2020 Laver Cup, an international men’s tennis tournament between two teams (Team World vs Team Europe). John McEnroe and Bjorn Borg will reprise their roles as captains in this fourth edition of the tournament.
In January 2015, the city was picked by the United States Olympic Committee to represent the nation in the bidding for the 2024 Olympic Games. But seven months later, the city withdrew itself from consideration amid concerns of the financial burdens associated with hosting the Olympics. Los Angeles was then selected as the US candidate and was ultimately awarded the right to host the 2028 Summer Olympics.
In addition to the Bruins-Canadiens ice hockey rivalry, the B’s often clash with the Philadelphia Flyers, Buffalo Sabres, Toronto Maple Leafs, Pittsburgh Penguins and have a history with the Carolina Hurricanes due to the franchise having formerly been known as the Hartford Whalers and located in Hartford, Connecticut. The Bruins have also been longtime rivals with the New York Rangers also due to the fact that both teams are members of the NHL’s Original Six franchises, a group that also includes the Maple Leafs and Canadiens.
The Patriots are rivals with frequent playoff opponents Pittsburgh Steelers, Baltimore Ravens, Denver Broncos, New York Jets and Indianapolis Colts.
The Red Sox also have rivalries with the Baltimore Orioles and the Los Angeles Angels.
The NBA’s biggest rivalry, is also the Celtics’. The rivalry between the Celtics and the Los Angeles Lakers is the most storied in the Association as the two teams have met in the NBA Finals 12 times and together account for a total of 33 NBA championships, more than half the total number of championships in the league. The Celtics also have rivalries with the Philadelphia 76ers (considered by many to be the NBA’s second greatest rivalry after Celtics-Lakers), especially during the 1960s when centers Bill Russell and Wilt Chamberlain battled for supremacy, the New York Knicks, and the Detroit Pistons, particularly during the late 1980s when the Pistons were about to supplant the Celtics as the best team in the NBA Eastern Conference.
| Boston Red Sox (MLB)|
9 World Series titles
Boston Braves (MLB)
New England Patriots (NFL)
| Boston Celtics (NBA)|
17 NBA titles
Boston Bruins (NHL)
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