Remembering the Bucky Dent Home Run
(Adapted from Remembering Fernway Park)
The gang was, literally, all there on April
20, 2012. The 100th birthday bash for venerable Fenway Park
was the main event--it even upstaged the game between the
Yankees and Red Sox. It was a marker moment in the rivalry
between the franchises, a memorable piece of history for
Caroline Kennedy threw out the first ball just as her great-grandfafther
"Honey Fitz" Kennedy had done on April 20, 1912 when the
Yankees (known as the Highlanders then) and the Bostons
battled. For the record, back then the BoSox eked out an
Through the decades there have many highs and lows for the
team that calls Fenway home. My own personal selection for
the most memorable moment (even though it was a down one)
took place on October 2, 1978, in the winner-take-all
playofff game between the Yanks and Sox.
Through my narrative and the voices of some of those who
were there, that amazing rivalry moment comes back to us.
Mike Torrez was the Boston starter while Ron Guidry, the
best pitcher in baseball that year, took the ball for the
DENNIS ECKERSLEY: It was electric that day. I had pitched
Saturday and won #20 and was glad I wasn't pitching that
playoff game. I was in the dugout. I was in the clubhouse. I
was all over the place. I was more nervous watching than
pitching. It was 2-0 in the seventh. They were setting up
this little stage for the celebration.
STEVE RYDER (a fan): Then all of a sudden:
BILL WHITE (GAME CALL): "Deep to left! Yastrzemski will not
get it...it's a home run! A three-run home run for Bucky
Dent and the Yankees now lead...Bucky Dent has just hit his
fourth home run of the year and look at that Yankees bench
out to greet him!"
CARL YASTRZEMSKI: I've always loved Fenway Park. But that
was the one moment I hated the place, the one moment the
wall got back at us. I still can't believe it went in the
BILL LEE (famed Boston hurler): Torrez threw that horseshit
slider that is still sitting there in middle of the plate,
and Bucky Dent hit right near the end of the bat. I couldn't
believe he hit it out, but he did.
ROGER KAHN(author): My memory is Dent slamming a foul ball
into his foot and hobbling around and there was a delay of
several minutes. During that whole delay Mike Torrez did not
throw a single pitch. Normally, you just throw to keep
loose. Dent got a new bat from Mickey Rivers. And the first
pitch Torrez threw after the break that may have been five
minutes, was that shot to left field. You could see
Yastrzemski thinking he could play the ball and kind of
crumpling when the ball went out.
LEIGH MONTVILLE: (author) It was a ball that everyone
thought was going to be caught, a nothing kind of hit.
DON ZIMMER (Red Sox manager): When Bucky hit the ball, I
said, "That's an out." And usually you know when the ball
hits the bat whether it's short, against the wall, in the
net or over the net. I see Yaz backing up, and when he's
looking up, I still think he's going to catch it. When I see
him turn around, then I know he's going to catch it off the
wall. Then the ball wound up in the net.
MIKE TORREZ: I was so damn shocked.I thought maybe it was
going to be off the wall. Damn, I did not think it was going
to go out.
BUCKY DENT: When I hit the ball, I knew that I had hit it
high enough to hit the wall. But there were shadows on the
net behind the wall and I didn't see the ball land there. I
was running from the plate because I thought I had a chance
at a double. I didn't know it was a home run until the
second-base umpire signaled it was a home run. It was an
eerie feeling because the ballpark was dead silent.
RYDER: It was just a pop fly off Mike Torrez. It just made
the netting. The crowd was just absolutely stunned,
Don Zimmer changed the Yankee shortstop's name to "Bucky
F_____g Dent." Red Sox fans were even more vulgar in their
DAN SHAUGHNESSY: I was covering for the Baltimore Eagle Sun
in the second or third row. The old press box was down low.
I was downstairs later in the stands when Gossage got Yaz to
pop up because we were getting ready to go to the locker
room and it looked like they were going down and that was
interesting how Sox fans in those days had a sense of gloom,
anticipating. Whatever happened, it wasn't going to end
DICK FLAVIN (Playright, humorist): I was in a box seat right
behind the Red Sox dugout. You could put your beer right on
the roof. So I had a great look of Yaz coming off the field
right after he popped up. He had his head down, anguish.
RYDER: I saw that pop-up up close. It was a fairly high one,
you could say it was a home run in a silo. It just ended the
game, and the people left in kind of a dejected attitude and
ZIMMER: Instead of going into the clubhouse, I sat in the
dugout and watched their team celebrate.
ECKERSLEY: Yaz was crying in the trainer's room. It was not
as crushing for me because when you're 23 you think, well,
we'll do it next year. We have such a good team. But if I
knew what I know now, I would have been devastated. We never
really got there again after that.
WALTER MEARS: (Former AP Columnist) Tip O'Neill went to Rome
that fall and saw the Pope. When he came back he was at some
function with Yaz and told him the Holy Father had spoken of
him. Yaz wanted to know what the Pope had said.
"Tip," he said, "How the heck could Yastrzemski pop out in
the last of the ninth with the tying run on third?"
After the game a Bucky Dent buddy called the Red Sox office.
He wanted to know if the home-run ball was available. He was
told that the net had been littered with balls from
batting-practice home runs--the "Bucky Dent ball" could not
be identified amidst all the others.
JOE MOONEY: (Head groundskeeper) I got blamed for taking the
ball Bucky Dent hit for the home run. I never touched it. I
never spoke to Bucky Dent, but later I found out that he was
accusing me. I know who took that ball he hit. But I'd never
say nothing. We'll leave that to history.
# # #
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Harvey Frommer at:
About the Author:
Harvey Frommer is in his 38th year of writing books.
A noted oral historian and sports journalist, the author of 42 sports
books including the classics: "New York City Baseball,1947-1957" and
"Shoeless Joe and Ragtime Baseball," his acclaimed REMEMBERING YANKEE
STADIUM was published in 2008 and his REMEMBERING FENWAY PARK: AN ORAL
AND NARRATIVE HISTORY OF THE HOME OF RED SOX NATION was published to
acclaim in 2011. The prolific Frommer is at work on When It Was
Just a Game, An Oral History on Super Bowel One.
His work has appeared in the New York Times, Los Angeles Times,
Washington Post, New York Daily News, Newsday, USA Today, Men's Heath,
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