BOSTON (CBS) — Boston sports fans are known for two things around the country: Supporting their teams until the bitter end, and drinking a lot of booze.
Both are pretty fair assessments, though they each have their gray areas. There are plenty of fans who enjoy their teams without the aid of alcohol, and there are a few fans who like to jump to conclusions and say some fairly absurd things. Remember all that “Bench Brady” talk in September? We’re guessing those thoughts were aided by some form of alcohol.
But if you do like to enjoy an adult beverage or two during a game, there’s no harm in that. Sports and booze, particular beer, have a special connection. Some of the best moments are shared by total strangers in a sports bar, and when those moments aren’t as special, tossing back your favorite brew can be a way to cope (though we’re not saying it is the recommended way to do so).
And then there’s that famous saying when an athlete makes such an impact play: “That man will never have to buy a beer in Boston again.”
Given the nine championships that Boston/New England sports teams have brought home over the last 14 years, there are plenty of gentlemen who fall under that category.
We’re not talking about the Tom Bradys, Kevin Garnetts and Big Papis of the world. Those guys can go into any bar and not only buy a round for the house, but probably buy the bar itself.
These are the unsung heroes who have earned these free beverages for either their body of work or a single moment that had a huge and lasting impact on Boston sports (with one exception, and we’ll explain later).
So if you ever see one of these guys at your favorite watering hole, make sure to go up and let them know the next round is on you:
No explanation needed. This man gets free drinks for the rest of his life, unless he somehow ends up on the Jets. And then, just buy him one because you feel bad for him.
Beer: Blue Moon. Sealing a championship with an interception on the goal line happens once in a blue moon.
Without him, the Red Sox’ amazing comeback in 2004 never happens. Everyone on the field, in Fenway Park, or watching the game on TV knew Roberts was going to try to steal in the ninth inning in Game 4, but the speedster still swiped the bag with ease. The rest, as they say, was history.
Beer: Something hoppy (Wormtown Be Hoppy, if you can find it). Because that jump he got against Rivera was incredible.
The man did everything for the Patriots for 14 seasons, whether it be catching passes from Brady, returning punts and kickoffs, playing some emergency defensive back, serving as team cook and playing Bingo night coordinator.
You can try to buy him a beer, but with his versatility he’ll likely jump behind the bar and start serving everyone.
Beer: A brown ale, of course. Let him pick it.
Mueller drove in Roberts following his incredible steal in 2004, but also came up big a number of other times that season — mostly against the Yankees.
In a heated July 24 showdown between the two teams at Fenway Park, the famous Varitek-A-Rod brawl, the Red Sox walked away victorious after thanks to a Mueller walk off two-run homer off Rivera. Many point to that win as the turning point of Boston’s season.
Beer: It’s Miller time!
Maybe a bowl of soup would fit Campbell more, but the man deserves a brew for a single shift in the 2013 Eastern Conference Finals. The Bruins were trying to kill a penalty against the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 3, when Campbell took a slapshot off his right leg. Hockey pucks are pretty hard, and Evgeni Malkin shoots extremely hard, so even with all the padding Campbell’s fibula shattered.
But that didn’t stop the forward from finishing his shift — on one leg. The Bruins killed off the penalty, and a few days later completed their series sweep of the heavily-favored Penguins.
Beer: In this case, you can’t go wrong with a glass of Merlot.
I’ll preface this by saying I was never a big fan of Mark Bellhorn. He made guys like Adam Dunn and Richie Sexson look disciplined at the plate, was iffy at best in the field, and he looked more like a wannabe Elvis impersonator than a major leaguer.
But dammit if I wasn’t jumping up and down with everyone else when he croaked a two-run homer in the eighth inning of Game 1 of the 2004 World Series at Fenway. The blast gave Boston a little more cushion, turning a 10-9 lead into 12-9 advantage, and was incredible to watch as it made its way towards Pesky’s Pole. It was one of those “will it stay fair” moments that was followed by complete euphoria.
I still don’t like Bellhorn all that much, but I would gladly buy the man a beer if I saw him. Just don’t judge me if I shake it a few times before giving it to him.
Beer: Bud Heavy, in a can.
The Boston Celtics had no business winning Game 4 of the 2007-08 NBA Finals. They trailed the Lakers by 18 points at halftime, and the deficit was up to 20 midway through the third quarter.
Then Eddie House replaced Rajon Rondo in the C’s lineup, and Boston started hitting shots. House and Ray Allen stretched the floor for the C’s, opening up opportunities for others around the basket.
And House hit his share of big shots. He nailed a three late in the third in the middle of a 10-0 Boston run that cut the lead to 73-71 by the end of the frame. Then with six minutes to go, House nailed another one from long distance to put Boston up 84-83. They never looked back in the 97-91 win, and took a 3-1 series lead.
House wasn’t the biggest contributor throughout the season, but his sharpshooting helped Boston claw back and eventually win Game 4. While they dropped Game 5 in L.A., the Celtics returned home and took care of business in Game 6, ending a 21-year title drought.
Beer: Downtown Brown Ale from Lost Coast Brewery.
Back when the Bruins were awful at the start of the century, there was one player who always seemed to rile up the team and fans alike. Standing at just 5-10 and 190-lbs (both generous figures), Stock never backed down from a fight. And he didn’t care if the man he was tussling with stood almost a foot taller than him. When Stock fought, it was more like a heavy-weight bout than your average hockey fight.
Beer: Anything with an ABV of 12% or more.
David Ortiz was the Goliath that carried the Red Sox to the 2013 World Series. But Boston’s closer pitched like few others had ever done before.
Uehara notched seven saves during Boston’s title run, including two in the Fall Classic. He saved three of Boston’s four wins against the Detroit Tigers in the ALCS, and was credited for the win in their other win of the series.
He faced 46 batters that postseason, with only seven of them reaching base and only one of them crossing home (Tampa’s Jose Lobaton on a game-winning solo homer in Game 3 of the ALDS). Koji struck out 16 batters that postseason, and didn’t issue a single walk.
When Koji took the mound that postseason, you knew the lead was safe. Buy this man a beverage!
Beer: Sam Adams Oktoberfest.
Tom Brady took home MVP honors after the Patriots won their first Super Bowl in franchise history, and rightfully so. No. 12 orchestrated a great drive to get the Patriots in field goal range, giving Adam Vinatieri a chance to do his thing at the end.
Antowain Smith was the featured running back in that game, but J.R. Redmond was on the field when it counted the most. He caught three passes from Brady on the game’s final drive, picking up 24 yards on the first four plays.
He was also a big contributor two weeks earlier in the famous “Snow Bowl” game, again coming through with a trio of big catches. He hauled in three Brady passes in that tilt’s overtime game-winning drive, including a 20-yarder on the second play of the drive from the Patriots’ own 35-yard line.
He’s not a guy you’ll hear a lot about when it comes to New England’s Super Bowl title in 2001, but he played a major part in bringing that first Lombardi Trophy to Foxboro.
Beer: Killian’s Irish Red.
Brown was enjoying retirement when the Celtics gave him a call during the 2007-08 season, asking him to give them some depth down low for their playoff run.
Brown played sparingly, but came up with a huge basket and a pair of offensive rebounds late in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Semis against the Cleveland Cavaliers. Everyone remembers that game for Paul Pierce and LeBron James’ epic duel, but Brown played a major role in the final outcome. His jumper with 1:21 to go gave Boston a 91-88 lead.
For that, he deserves a free drink from those who remember/recognize him.
Beer: Woodstock Brewery’s Pigs Ear Brown Ale
OK, we know that Drew made a lot of money with the Red Sox. A lot.
And to call him unsung would be silly. He never lived up to the expectations that went with his five-year, $70-million contract, and more times than not, it was frustrating to watch him emotionlessly walk back to the dugout with his bat on his shoulder after he watched strike three go right down the middle of the plate.
But Drew gets a free beer for one swing of his bat (yes, he did actually swing a few times). With the Red Sox down to the Cleveland Indians 3-2 heading into Game 6 of the 2007 ALCS, Drew crushed a two-out, grand slam off of Indians starter Fausto Carmona/Roberto Hernandez in the first inning. The Sox never looked back in the series, and a few weeks later they were crowned World Series champs for the second time in four years.
Beer: Anything light without much flavor. Then make him buy the house a round.
Bonus Brew: Mariano Rivera
He blew Games 4 and 5 of the 2004 ALCS, and was a real sport when Boston fans gave him a sarcastic cheer the following year at the Red Sox home opener. Plus, he seems like a really nice guy.
Beer: Something classy. Unfortunately it’s an area I don’t know much about.
A few bonus rounds: Adam Vinatieri (buy him a whole meal), Trot Nixon (the original dirt dog), Tedy Bruschi (come on, it’s so obvious!), Tim Thomas (just don’t bring up politics), Curt Schilling (stay away from Rhode Island), Keith Foulke (maybe grab something from the BK Value menu instead), Bill Russell era Celtics (they didn’t make much back then), Mike Vrabel (two Super Bowl touchdowns), Leon Powe (hero of Gm 2 vs. Lakers) Shawn Thornton (he’s the man! Buy him a couple!), Mo Lewis (know what, let Brady buy him his beer).