Boston’s Agony: The 1978 Red Sox, Bruins & Patriots

This is part of a series of sports history articles celebrating the best in 1978 sports. This piece asks the question of which geographic fan base had the best year in ’78.

1978 wasn’t a year that was about where you wanted to be, as much as where you didn’t want to be. While championships were spread out across the America, one city had it rough—at least if you’re a fan who believes the worst fate is that of hopes raised and dashed. The city of Boston had three teams look like championship material, but in the end, the Bruins, Red Sox & Patriots all came up short.

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The tale of the 1978 Red Sox is infamous in franchise lore, for spurting out to a 14-game lead over the New York Yankees, giving it all back and more and then losing a crushing one-game playoff for the AL East title. The Yankees went on to win the World Series, while the Red Sox had the second-best record in all of baseball.

New Englanders love their hockey and the Boston Bruins were putting excellent teams on the ice. The problem was that the archrival Montreal Canadiens were doing it even better. The 1978 Boston Bruins made the Stanley Cup Finals for the second year in a row…and for the second year in a row lost to Montreal.

The near-misses of the Red Sox & Bruins were frustrating enough, but in both cases the teams had to watch their archrivals do the celebrating at Fenway Park and Boston Garden.

Football wasn’t on the Boston sports radar the way it is today, now that Bill Belichick and Tom Brady have transformed the city’s sports culture. But the 1978 New England Patriots had a season that followed the same pattern as their baseball and hockey brethren. The Patriots won the AFC East, were rolling along and then self-inflicted wounds ended their season in disappointing fashion.

The Patriots lost their playoff game on New Year’s Eve, and maybe that was appropriate. It was an all-to-fitting end to a once-promising 1978 for the city of Boston as a whole. All that was left was to hope for the future—at the very least, Larry Bird’s arrival to rejuvenate the NBA Celtics was less than twelve months away.

Read more about the 1978 Boston Red Sox
Read more about the 1978 Boston Bruins
Read more about the 1978 New England Patriots