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Eight Globe sports writers recall moments they’ll never forget

From covering the Red Sox in the 1970s to the birth of “Title Town” in the 2000s, Globe writers past and present share favorite moments on the sports beat.

Clockwise from left: Marvin Hagler; Dave Cowens and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar; a crowd; Kevin Garnett; the 1980 Miracle on Ice; and Dave Roberts' iconic steal.Globe staff

1. Marvin Hagler winning the title in 1980

Marvin Hagler fights Britain's Alan Minter on September 27, 1980, at London's Wembley Arena.Associated Press/File

By Leigh Montville

It was 4 o’clock in the morning when sparring partners Robbie Simms and Danny Snyder went to their room to get the American flag. They came back to the bar at The Bailey’s Hotel in London in their “Marvin Hagler, Destruction and Destroy” T-shirts. Snyder held the flag high and promoter Bob Arum stood and began to sing “God Bless America” and everyone in the room — maybe 25 people — stood and sang with him. It was a moment.

“I made these my referee and judges,” Hagler said, holding up his two fists. “That’s the way I went into this fight. That’s the way I did it.”

He was middleweight champion of the world after stopping Englishman Alan Minter on cuts with a TKO at 1:45 of the third round at Wembley Arena. Everything had been skewed against the visitor from Brockton, Massachusetts — Minter in his Union Jack trunks, the promoters with their sly tricks, the nationalistic crowd that rioted at the end — but the two judges had made the final decision.

The left one. And the right one.

2. Game 4 of the 2004 ALCS

By Dan Shaughnessy

The hated Yankees had destroyed the Red Sox, 19-8, in Game 3 Saturday and it was pretty clear the Bombers were going to sweep the Sox in ‘04.

With Boston trailing, 4-3, in the bottom of the ninth, I left the press box and went to Fenway’s Level 3, where Sox CEO Larry Lucchino was scribbling on a yellow legal pad, composing an apology to Sox fans. “I wanted to talk about what a bitter pill it was,’’ Lucchino recalled months later. “And how we would re-double our efforts...”

While the CEO composed his concession speech in executive Box L-1, Kevin Millar drew a leadoff walk against Mariano Rivera and was called back to the bench for a pinch runner. Thirty-two-year-old Dave Roberts popped out of the Sox dugout and looked over his shoulder as he jogged toward first base. In the dugout, Sox manager Terry Francona winked at Roberts.

Roberts stole second on a close call, scored on a single by Bill Mueller, and the Sox won it in 12 on a David Ortiz homer. The 2004 Red Sox never lost another game.

Dave Roberts’ iconic steal. Grossfeld, Stan Globe Staff

3. The 1978 American League East tiebreaker

By Peter Gammons

On a glorious October morning in 1978, I grabbed my Olivetti and briefcase and began the walk through the Fens. It was the final crescendo to a season in which the Red Sox and Yankees, two historical rivals, ended with identical records.

With the bases loaded and two out in the bottom of the sixth, Thurman Munson signaled for a slider down and in on Fred Lynn. Ron Guidry’s velocity wasn’t what it had been, so Lou Piniella took eight steps from right-center toward the right field line. Lynn hit a liner toward the right field corner, which, if it had begun the long run around the corner, would have scored at least two runs.

So it remained 2-0, not 4-0, when Bucky Dent broke his bat on a running fastball from Mike Torrez, then launched a slider into the screen.

New York ran the score to 5-2, but the Sox clawed to within a run by the ninth. Rich Gossage walked Rick Burleson with one out. The sun was still above the left field roof, blinding Piniella. Jerry Remy hit a rope in his direction; Burleson respected Piniella’s baseball guile and held at second, minimizing the damage. Piniella later said, “I went to where I guessed the ball would go off the bat.”

After the game, George Steinbrenner appeared in the Red Sox clubhouse. “We won, but you didn’t lose,” Steinbrenner told the Boston players. It didn’t feel that way for Sox fans.

The US hockey team celebrates its victory against the Soviet Union.Uncredited/Associated Press

4. The Miracle on Ice

By John Powers

The mood on Main Street outside the Lake Placid arena that afternoon in 1980 was defiant, almost militant. The US hockey team was about to play the Soviet Union in the Olympics but their countrymen seemed ready to go to war. “We’re just here to play a hockey game,” Mike Eruzione said. He and his fellow Boys of Winter played the greatest one in Games history and I wrote about it from the overflowing press box. What made the game special for me was the local angle — four of the players were from Boston University. One of them was Eruzione, the team’s irrepressible captain. I still can see him vaulting over the dasher, heading for open ice, taking a pass from the corner, and scoring the shocking goal that capped off the Miracle on Ice. “Michael,” his mother scolded him when her son emerged to board the team bus, “you’re gonna give me a heart attack.”

Dave Cowens and the Celtics outlasted Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and the Milwaukee Bucks in the 1974 NBA Finals.UPI

5. The first Celtics championship I covered

By Bob Ryan

Dave Cowens was renowned for his intensity, but he played with particular passion in Game 7 of the 1974 NBA Finals versus the Milwaukee Bucks because he felt he had let his team down with a 5-for-19 showing in a losing Game 6. Winning titles was nothing new for John Havlicek and Don Nelson, but for Cowens, veteran rebound ace Paul Silas, and young backcourt stars Jo Jo White and Don Chaney, it would be a career first. So, a focused Cowens responded with a stellar 28-point, 14-rebound game as the Celtics prevailed, 102-87. When I asked Cowens how it felt to have finally achieved the goal of winning a title, he said, “For me, the fun was in the doing. I just look at this as something for my portfolio of basketball experiences.” And I regard this first Celtics championship I was privileged to cover as a highlight in my portfolio of journalistic experiences.

Kevin Garnett yelled “Anything is possible!” after the Celtics won their first NBA title since 1986.Chin, Barry Globe Staff Photo

6. The 2008 Celtics

By Gregory Lee

The Celtics’ proud franchise was in the midst of an NBA championship drought. When the team added stars Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen to go along with Paul Pierce before the 2007-08 season, there was suddenly hope to hang up banner No. 17. The playoff run was tougher than the team’s 66 regular-season wins might have suggested. I covered every postseason game. The first two rounds were a slog, with Boston struggling to win each in seven games against the Hawks and the LeBron James-led Cavaliers, respectively. But the Celtics took care of the Pistons in six, setting up a showdown with their rivals, the Kobe Bryant led-Lakers. It appeared the series would be tied at 2 when the Lakers took an 18-point halftime lead in Game 4 in Los Angeles. But Boston’s defense limited the Lakers to 33 points in the second half and they took a 3-1 lead. It set the stage for Kevin Garnett’s (pictured) “Anything is possible!” yell after winning the Celtics’ first title since 1986.

Tom Brady after leading the Patriots to a Super Bowl win against the St. Louis Rams, in 2002. Bill Greene/Globe Staff

7. The birth of a title town

By Jackie MacMullan

I maneuvered my way onto the field, 20 feet from Tom Brady, who, hands atop his head, looked incredulous as confetti fluttered onto his jersey.

Minutes earlier, I had stood in the back row of the Superdome as the St. Louis Rams roared back from a 17-3 deficit to tie the game. I was certain the Patriots would lose. All the Boston teams did back in 2002 — often in spectacular fashion. But when Adam Vinatieri booted a field goal as time expired, our city’s sports landscape shifted — permanently.

The Patriots won the Super Bowl. If a team nicknamed the “Patsies” for most of my life could, then why not the Red Sox . . . and the Celtics . . . and the Bruins. Incredibly, it happened. Over the next nine years, each team was crowned champion.

None with more panache than Brady. As I stood beside him on that February night, it occurred to me: This guy might be pretty special.

Barrier-breaking journalist Lesley Visser is seen covering Patriots training camp in 1976, her first year on the beat.

8. Covering the 1976 Patriots

By Lesley Visser

When the Globe made me the first woman to cover the NFL as a beat in 1976, I had no idea what to expect. The credentials said “No Women or Children in the Press Box,” and I had no locker room access, but the ‘76 Patriots were magnificent. Miserable for more than a decade, they were thought of as somewhere between laughable and preposterous. But in 1976, at 10-3, they had already clinched a playoff spot and were headed to Tampa Bay for the final regular season game.

The player-media relationship was much more relaxed back then. Will McDonough and I flew with the team and often played racquetball with the players. All-Pro tight end Russ Francis, nursing an injury, wasn’t going to play much, so he brought his guitar to Tampa. On the eve of the game, we sat on the beach and Russ played songs he’d learned growing up in Hawaii. It sounds absurd — looking back, it was! In the playoffs against Oakland, the Patriots famously got robbed (at least according to anyone with Boston blood) when Sugar Bear Hamilton was called for roughing the passer. It was still a year of magical thinking.