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Red Sox/Yankees:  Bucky Dent's Home Run October 2, 1978

Here they go again - the team from the Bronx and the one that plays in the Fens. Two special series in May 2003 - with the arch rivals doing it one more time. Head to head, for bragging rights and the top of the heap in the AL East.

The mother of all such moments will always remain what happened on October 2, 1978 "When I hit the ball," Bucky Dent recalled, "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 didn't know I had hit a homer until I saw the umpire at first signaling home run with his hand. I couldn't believe it."

Neither could the Red Sox. Don Zimmer, then Boston's skipper, changed the Yankee shortstop's name to "Bucky F_____g Dent." Red Sox fans had even more salty phrases.
Dent's home run was the headline grabber in that one-game playoff game between the historic rivals at Fenway Park before 32,925. The Yankees were down to the Sox in the AL East by 14 games on July 19. After Billy Martin was fired as manager, Bob Lemon led the team to a 52-21 record. Losing 14 of 17 in September, the Sox made a late-season run winning their last eight games, catching the Yankees on the last day of the season.

New York's 24 game winner Ron Guidry gave up two runs to Boston through six - a home run to Carl Yastrzemski and a Jim Rice RBI single. Mike Torrez, a former Yankee, was the Boston pitcher.

Chris Chambliss singled. Roy White singled. That's how the top of the seventh began for the Yankees. All was just foreshadowing for Earl Russell Dent out of Savannah, Georgia. A fine defensive shortstop but not much of an offensive threat, he had hit but .243 for the season. For the last 20 games he had batted a puny .140. But the Yankees were out of infield replacements. Regular second baseman Willie Randolph was injured. Fred Stanley, the only other available mid-infielder, was slotted to come in and replace Brian Doyle, who had been hit for earlier in the inning.

Dent stepped in. Just hoping to make contact, the 5'-9" Yankee peered out at Torrez, the 6'-5" Red Sox pitcher. The two were locked in, locked up.

Dent fouled the second pitch off his foot. The count was one and one. There was a brief delay as the Yankees trainer tended to Dent. Mickey Rivers, the on-deck-batter, pointed out that there was a crack in the handsome infielder's bat. Dent borrowed a bat from Rivers.

All set, Dent swung at the next pitch; the ball cleared the infield heading out to the left field wall. The wind and destiny moved the ball higher to its date with the Green Monster.

"Deep to left!" Bill White, Yankees broadcaster shouted, "Yastrzemski will not get it!" Yaz backed up. He had been in this position before. But he knew it was hopeless. The ball sailed into the 23-foot net above the Green Monster, the 37-foot wall in left field. Three run home run!

White, Chambliss and the entire Yankee bench were there waiting at home plate. It was all Bucky Dent that October day.

"I was so damn shocked," Torrez said. "I thought maybe it was going to be off the wall. Damn, I did not think it was going to go out."

Not many remember that the Red Sox still had a chance in the bottom of the ninth. But Goose Gossage got Carl Yastrzemski to pop out with 2 on and 2 out. Not many remember that the victory in that game was earned by Ron Guidry, moving his record to 25-3.

"I had a dream as a kid," the player who was born Russell Earl O'Dey said. "I dreamed some day I would hit a home run to win something."

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You can reach Harvey Frommer at:   

Email:  harvey.frommer@Dartmouth.EDU 

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, The Sporting News, among other publications.

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Harvey Frommer along with his wife, Myrna Katz  Frommer are the authors of five critically acclaimed oral/cultural histories, professors at Dartmouth  College, and travel writers who specialize in cultural history, food, wine, and Jewish history and heritage in the United States, Europe, and the Caribbean. 

This Article is Copyright 1995 - 2014 by Harvey Frommer.  All rights reserved worldwide.

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