It’s always interesting to look back at some newspaper history, and The Boston Globe has a particularly notable new project along those lines. In honor of the paper’s 150th anniversary this year, their editors selected 150 notable front pages they’ve ran over the years. (A few between 1967 and 1973 can be seen at top.) And of those, we counted 33 sports ones, so a little more than a fifth. Here’s how those break down by team/sport:
Celtics/NBA: 10 front pages, first in 1957, last in 2008. Nine are on NBA championships, the 10th is on Reggie Lewis’ 1993 death.
Red Sox/MLB: eight front pages, first in 1903, last in 2018. Five are on World Series wins, a sixth is on the 1986 World Series loss to the Mets, a seventh is on the sale of Babe Ruth, and the eighth is on Carlton Fisk’s 1975 ALCS home run.
Patriots/NFL: seven front pages, first in 2002, last in 2019. Six are on Super Bowl wins, the seventh is on the Super Bowl XLII loss to the Giants that left them 18-1.
Bruins/NHL: three front pages, first in 1929, last in 2011, all on Stanley Cup wins. (The 1970 one has a good photo of a soaring Bobby Orr, although not Ray Lussier’s more famous one.)
Boston Marathon: three front pages, first in 1897 on the first incarnation of the event, last in 2013 on the bombing of it, third in 1980 on Rosie Ruiz’s immediately-controversial and later-disqualified win.
This obviously is not a full listing of the front pages the paper has run over the years, and it shouldn’t be seen as a discussion of “How often do each of these teams/sports show up as the lead story on the front page?”; that would be a different (and much more labor-intensive) study with some different results. (For example, the Celtics would likely be even higher in relative terms, as only nine of their 17 total championships show up here. Same with the Red Sox, who have five of their nine titles represented. The Patriots have all of their championships represented here, but there are plenty of non-championship fronts on them as well. It’s unclear how a full front page analysis would impact the Bruins; only three of their six titles are represented here, but they’re probably making the front less than the Red Sox or Patriots when they don’t win titles, especially over the post-1970s period. Oh, and the New England Revolution may have made some paper fronts, but they weren’t represented in this selection of fronts.) But what this particular collection is useful and notable for is showing which front pages particularly stood out to the Globe’s current editors who put together this retrospective.
And on that front, it’s somewhat fascinating how large of a role sports plays in this collection, especially when it comes to Boston-area pro teams. 23 of the 33 sports ones here are about those teams winning titles. (And, as noted, that’s not even all the titles those teams have won.) And five further fronts are stories on those pro teams that aren’t about title wins. It’s certainly notable that so many of those teams’ championships are seen as some of the most memorable moments in the last 150 years of Boston history, right up there with all the huge local and national news fronts also represented in this collection.
For comparison, there are 16 stories with “President” in the title: three on assassinations, six on elections, three on impeachments, one on Nixon’s resignation, one on Kennedy’s inauguration, one on the Cuban Missile Crisis, and one on the Saturday Night Massacre. So presidential stories received more attention than any individual sports team here, but less than half the 33 fronts sports received overall. That definitely shows the importance of sports to Boston and the Globe, both in those particular moments and in putting this collection together now.