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