BOSTON (CBS) — It’s the most wonderful time of the year. That’s a saying that’s commonly used around Christmas, but let’s be real, folks. It can be downright lousy in Boston in December. Whipping winds and heavy snowfall sounds wonderful in Christmas carols, but when it’s smacking you in the face and causing you to slip all over the sidewalk, it’s just not as fun.
On the contrary, there is no time quite like summertime, and there is no better celebration of the summer than the Fourth of July weekend. We all gather in backyards, on beaches and under the glowing skies of fireworks for one reason and one reason only: to let each other know how much we love America. Are our politicians all lousy? Of course. Could the economy be better? Sure. Do we have a few social issues that maybe we ought to fix? Yeah. But none of that matters when you’re asked if you love America.
The answer is always yes. Yes, obviously. We love America.
And in Boston, we also love our sports, perhaps more than any other city in this fine nation. So as you might expect, Boston’s love for sports and love for America often intersect on the field and inside stadiums.
With that being the case, let’s take a quick look at some of the most patriotic athletes to ever come through this great city of Boston.
(This list is not scientific. It’s entirely possible I egregiously omitted an outstanding lover of the United States. On this most wonderful of holiday weekends, please let’s not fight about. Instead, please add any extra candidates to the comments section and make the case. Together, we can do this.)
If it were solely for contributions on the baseball field, Jonny Gomes’ tenure with the Red Sox would most likely be forgotten in history. But from the moment he signed with Boston, Gomes has done everything in his power to ensure he’ll be remembered forever … or at least, much longer than a .240-hitting fourth outfielder rightfully should be.
That’s in part due to his shining love of his country. The California native is tatted up all over, with many of his tattoos honoring the military and the country. He has a giant bald eagle tattoo, a Statue of Liberty/Golden Gate Bridge tattoo, a Pat Tillman tribute (“he’s a true American hero,” Gomes said) tattoo, World War II war plane tattoos and of course, an American flag tattoo.
He also wears a military helmet from time to time:
He also wore this to the White House:
That’s about as America as it gets right there.
He also doesn’t seem like much of a soccer fan, but that didn’t stop him from rocking the red, white and blue during batting practice this week to show his support for the U.S. in the World Cup.
There is just no denying that Jonny Gomes wears his love for America on his sleeve. Literally.
Aside from being a star linebacker for a team named the Patriots, there’s nothing overly super-American about Tedy Bruschi. Except, well, his name is Bruschi. Cracking open a brewski at a Fourth of July barbecue is an essential part of the whole celebration, and there was nothing better than 68,000 fans in Foxboro bellowing “Brrrrrrruuuuuuu!”
He also showed some classic American resolve by returning to the football field after suffering a stroke. Tedy Brushi — true American.
The Hall of Fame third baseman is immortalized for two reasons. One, he was a prolific hitter. Two, he was a prolific lover of chicken and beer. That’s as American as it gets. (Before you ask, yes, the 2011 Red Sox pitching staff gets an honorable mention on this list for their love of fried chicken and beer, too.)
Boggs was rumored to have imbibed 64 cans of beer on a cross-country flight once, and though he’s denied the story, it’s more fun to pretend it’s true.
Yeah, he went to the Yankees, but have you ever thought he did so to let the world know just how much he loved his country? How do you think the British reacted when they learned that Boggs became a Yankee? They were likely shaking in their little redcoat boots.
Plus, his name is Wade Boggs and he rocks a killer stache. Find me a more American name than Wade Boggs. Find me a more USA look than this:
It can’t be done.
OK, so he’s not an athlete per se, but he owns the Patriots. And in February 2002, he stepped on the stage of the Superdome to tell the world, “Today, we are all Patriots.”
It was awesome.
I know, I know, Bobby is a Canadian boy. But can’t we just adopt him? Bobby Orr for president.
(It is a Massachusetts mandate that Bobby Orr must appear on all “best athlete” lists that are ever compiled. This requirement has now been fulfilled.)
Like Orr, David Ortiz is not a native of the United States,but
A) He has become the unofficial mayor of Boston, and
B) He gained U.S. citizenship in 2008.
Ortiz clearly loves America, but he gets a demerit on this list for the time he took a selfie with President Obama and it become a marketing vehicle for some newfangled cell phone. Bad David!
Putting that aside, it was still a pretty cool photo. And as the self-appointed guardian of this bleeping city, Ortiz makes this list easily.
The classic American underdog, Doug Flutie never let being too small stop him from achieving his dreams on the football field. The Natick High School grad went on to author the most legendary moment in the history of Boston College football on his way to a professional career in the NFL, USFL and CFL. He started 66 NFL games at quarterback, despite being just 5-foot-10, and he played well into his 40s.
Flutie still stays active by playing in a men’s baseball league, and in his spare time he snares hot shots in the third base field boxes at Fenway Park.
Hey, Doug, who’s a real American?
Aw, shucks. Right back at ya, buddy.
Simply put, Ted Williams is the greatest hitter who ever lived. Anyone who says otherwise must hate America.
Williams would have set every record imaginable in the game of baseball if it weren’t for his commitment to the country. He missed nearly five full seasons so that he could serve in the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps. He was an exceptional pilot, a mighty fine ball player, and a world class fly fisherman. America, America, America, check, check, check.
The son of a Russian-Jewish immigrant, Red Auerbach was the architect of arguably the greatest sports dynasty of all time. He did so using progressive schools of thought and good old-fashioned American ingenuity. How else can you explain the way he outsmarted his peers and drafted Larry Bird a year before he would turn pro?
Auerbach also was not as close-minded as most of his peers were in the ’50s and ’60s. Auerbach drafted the NBA’s first black player, he was the first to have a starting lineup made up of five black players, and he employed the first black coach.
It’s that type of leadership that America is never lacking.
It’s not often that interior lineman get remembered long after their playing days are over, but Joe Andruzzi is unforgettable in New England. The New York native played for the Patriots from 2000-04, and it was in September 2001 when we all learned how closely he was connected with the events of 9/11. His brothers were members of the New York Fire Department and were first responders on that day, and it was an especially trying day for Andruzzi and his family. Fortunately, his brothers survived the attack, and the family took the field in Foxboro when football returned in what was an emotional moment.
Lat year, Andruzzi popped up in photos after the Boston Marathon bombing, in which he was shown carrying a woman to safety. He rejected any talk of him being a hero, insisting he did what anyone would do.
The All-American kid. The unknown who fought his way up from the bottom of the depth chart and became the MVP. The superstar who built it all on hard work and dedication. Tom Brady, ladies and gentlemen.
(Yes, just like Bobby Orr, there is a Tom Brady requirement when making Boston sports lists.)
Ted Washington, Reggie Jefferson, Dougie Hamilton, Franklin Morales
Get it? Do you guys get it?
Miracle on Ice. Say no more.
He may not be a household name like many others on this list,but he’s no doubt a Boston athlete who loves the U.S.
Carr is an Army ranger who you’ve no doubt seen in the past few years, even if you didn’t know it. He ran into the mess at the scene of the Boston Marathon bombings to try to help people, he pushes injured former high school hockey player Matt Brown in marathons, and he donated the famous Army Ranger jacket which the Bruins passed around to the player of the game last spring in their run to the Stanley Cup Final.
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