Sunday, March 5, 2017

Oral History Flashback
The Bucky “F______g” Dent Home Run!

By Harvey Frommer

On October 2, 1978 , a one-game playoff got underway inside

Fenway Park before 32,925. It was the two teams with the best records in

baseball after 162 games – winner take all for the AL East title. Ex-Yankee

Mike Torrez was on the mound for Boston; Ron Guidry, the best pitcher in

baseball that season, was honed in for the Yankees.

STEVE RYDER: Four of us went. We expected to win that

game, absolutely. The Sox had a good year, they’d come through.

I was seven rows from the field on the third base side directly up

from the on-deck circle.

DENNIS ECKERSLEY: It was electric that day. I had pitched

Saturday and won #20 and was glad I wasn’t pitching that playoff


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


STEVE RYDER: 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..."

"I've always loved Fenway Park" Yastrzemski said. "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 net"

BILL LEE: 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: 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

leftfield. You could see Yastrzemski thinking he could play the

ball and kind of crumpling when the ball went out.

LEIGH MONTVILLE: It was a ball that everyone thought was

going to be caught, a nothing kind of hit.

DON ZIMMER: 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."

“When I hit the ball, I knew that I had hit it high enough to hit the

wall,” remembered Bucky Dent. “ 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."

STEVE RYDER: It was just a pop fly off Mike Torrez. It just

made the netting. The crowd was just absolutely stunned,

absolutely stunned.

Don Zimmer changed the Yankee shortstop's name to "Bucky

F_____g Dent".  Red Sox fans were even more vulgar in their language.

Yaz had two hits in that game, including a homer off Ron Guidry, but

he also made the last out.

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 well.

DICK FLAVIN: 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.

STEVE RYDER: I saw that popup up close. It was a fairly

high one, you could say it was a homerun in a silo. It just ended

the game ,and the people left in kind of a dejected attitude and

demeanor. Whipped.

DON ZIMMER: Instead of going into the clubhouse, I sat in

the dugout and watched their team celebrate.

DENNIS 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: 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 inquiring 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: I was the head groundskeeper and 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.

It was a disappointing finish for the Red Sox of Boston but the

season had been momentous. Very potent at home in 1978, winning 59

games against just 23 losses for a .720 percentage, posting one of the

franchises best all time home records, the team drew two million fans for

the second straight season- 2,320,643 surpassing the 1977 mark of

2,074,549. Fans and franchise looked forward to the last year of the

decade at Fenway Park.
Harvey Frommer, a professor at Dartmouth College in the MALS program, is

in his 41 st year of writing books. A noted oral historian and sports journalist, he is

the author of 43 sports books including the classics: New York City Baseball,

1947-1957″ and Shoeless Joe and Ragtime Baseball,as well as his acclaimed

Remembering Yankee Stadium and most notable and best-selling Remembering

Fenway Park.

A link to purchase autographed copies of Frommer Sports Books is at:

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