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Boston's success vs. St. Louis
10/26/2004 11:49 PM ET
ST. LOUIS -- St. Louis is known as the "Gateway to the West," and if the Red Sox win this World Series and end the Curse of the Bambino, then it also will become known as the "Gateway to Glory" for Boston's professional sports teams.

According to Red Sox historian Dick Bresciani, Boston breakthroughs have come at the expense of St. Louis teams in the past. To wit:

  • The Boston Celtics defeated the St. Louis (now Atlanta) Hawks for their first National Basketball Association title in the 1956-57 season. The breakthrough came in one of the most memorable games in NBA history, an afternoon contest that was the first to be televised nationally. Bob Pettit's free throws for St. Louis sent the game into overtime, but Jim Loscutoff put Boston ahead to stay in the second overtime with two free throws. Pettit's buzzer-beater attempt caromed off the rim.

    That 125-123 victory was not just a breakthrough, but a waterspout opened wide. It began one of the greatest dynasties in sports, a run from 1957-69 never again seen in the NBA.

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    Boston had something else to thank St. Louis for: Bill Russell. The Hawks traded him as the No. 2 draft pick before that 1957 season for "Easy" Ed Macauley and rookie Cliff Hagan. Both teams would benefit in the long run from that deal, but Russell went on to become a dynasty-maker and one of the all-time greats.

  • When the Boston Bruins met the St. Louis Blues in the 1969-70 Stanley Cup Finals, the Bruins were looking for their first title since beating Detroit in the 1940-41 season. Boston swept the Blues in four games, outscoring them by a combined 20-7. The Bruins would win again two years later; they haven't won it all since.

    Conversely, losing that series had an adverse effect on St. Louis. The Blues had made it to the Stanley Cup Finals in each of their first three seasons after expansion. They have not made it back since losing to Boston.

  • In one of the most exciting Super Bowl finishes, Adam Vinatieri booted home a 48-yard field goal with no time left on the clock to give the New England Patriots a 20-17 victory over Kurt Warner and the St. Louis Rams in Super Bowl XXXVI. That victory in January 2002 was the first NFL title for the Patriots. And behind Tom Brady, the game's MVP, the team would go on to establish itself as a true NFL dynasty that presently is extending the longest consecutive-game winning streak in league history.

    Now the Red Sox are hoping to win their first World Series title since 1918 and end the fabled hex that has existed since the club sent Babe Ruth to the New York Yankees in 1920. Perhaps it is only fitting that the St. Louis Cardinals are on the other side.

    This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.