The Boston Red Sox' World Series victory not only capped a worst-to-first turnaround season for the Old Towne Team, it also brought a final note of joy in a season full of them to a city that had been victimized by a terrorist attack just over six months earlier. Among the iconic images from that bombing at the finish line of the Boston Marathon on April 15 was a photo that depicted police officers Rachel McGuire and Javier Pagan and Detective Kevin McGill springing into action almost immediately, even as a fallen runner remained prone on the ground. That image landed on the cover of Sports Illustrated's April 22 issue (see below).
Now those three members of Boston's Finest are joined on the newest cover of Sports Illustrated by a hero of a different sort, World Series MVP David Ortiz. Big Papi has been a legend in Beantown since helping the Red Sox win their first championship in 86 years back in 2004 but he became even more important to the city this year, as SI senior writer Tom Verducci explains in this week's cover story.
"If any one person were to lead the Red Sox and -- given the team's cultural importance in New England -- by extension Bostonians through a terrible time, it was a man with an outsized capacity for resilience," writes Verducci.
As the longest-tenured Red Sox player, it was Ortiz who grabbed the microphone during a ceremony honoring the victims before the team's first post-bombing game at Fenway Park on April 20 and offered a message of strength and resolve. He drew his biggest cheers when he said, "This is our f-----' city."
On the field, Ortiz was the center of Boston's unexpected return to glory, leading the team in home runs (30), RBIs (107), batting average (.309), on-base percentage (.395) and slugging percentage (.564) as the Sox won the AL East for the first time in six years. He then had a two-homer game against Rays ace David Price in the ALDS and hit the game-tying grand slam against the Tigers in Game 2 of the ALCS that shifted that series in the Red Sox' favor.
He was even better during the World Series, when he batted .688, the highest average ever for a Fall Classic of at least six games, while also hitting two home runs against the Cardinals. Ortiz became the first non-Yankees player in 30 years to win at least three championships with the same team, having also won in 2007.
This year, though, will be remembered for far more than just a title. It will be about how a team helped a city smile again.