Best of Boston

1986 Best Attempt to Cash in on Pro Sports

The Boston Marathon’s Turning Pro

There was no question that by remaining stubbornly amateur in a sport that had gone professional, the Marathon was dying. Then David D’Alessandro persuaded his employer, the John Hancock Mutual Life Insurance Company, to spring for $10 million to sponsor 10 Boston Marathons. A course record, a world-class field, and hundreds of runners later, today’s Marathon is again one of the city’s—and the country’s—preeminent sporting events. “We’ve got athletes from 30 or 40 countries,” said D’Allessandro, a senior vice president at Hancock. “I’ve got letters on my desk from the agents of guys who wouldn’t even look at us last year.”